Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tracking the Tiamzons: Years of hunt, bit of luck

From the Manila Standard Today (Mar 24): Tracking the Tiamzons: Years of hunt, bit of luck

THE arrest of top communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon Saturday was the result of a years-long manhunt by the military and the police. And then, a bit of luck.

“Natiyempuhan lang,” said one of the agents who took part in the operation. 

The Tiamzons were aboard a Hyundai Starex Van and their companions riding on a Toyota Innova when they were flagged down by a police-military checkpoint in Cebu, wher they had stayed since October last year. They were supposed to go to Davao on Saturday, the source said.

 The couple and five others who were arrested with them were flown to Manila on an Air Force Fokker plane and brought to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Camp Crame Saturday.

In a briefing after the capture, Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said the Tiamzons had been on the run, evading authorities and hiding in isolated areas but also staying in posh villages in Metro Manila.

Tiamzon mostly stayed in the Bicol region at the height of the insurgency in the 1980s during the incumbency of the late Felimon Lagman, then said to be the overall leader of the New People’s Army.

A crackdown on the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA hierarchy forced Tiamzon to seek refuge in the Bicol region for some time, Bautista said.

In Bicol, Tiamzon held a series of plenums, formulating ways to thwart the military offensive. The NPA launched a series of attacks against military and police personnel in Metro Manila an attempt to divert the military’s campaign in the countryside, Bautista added.

Tiamzon was responsible for forming the Alex Boncayao Brigade, the NPA hit squad that was responsible for the series of assassinations of military and police officials during the administration of President Corazon Aquino.

Branded as a hardliner in the organization, Tiamzon held briefings in Bicol and Quezon province, particularly in the Bondoc peninsula under the command of Gregorio Rosal, also head of the Melito Glor or Banahaw Command.

When Rosal died of a heart attack in 2011, Tiamzon disappeared until his surprise visit to his ancestral home in Concepcion, Marikina, in early 1989 when his wife Wilma was arrested by authorities and jailed in Camp Crame.

Tiamzon stayed for a while in Metro Manila to plan the escape of Wilma on Dece. 25, 1989, the military said.

Tiamzon, 63 was born on March 20, 1951 and studied at the University of the Philippines with a course of Bachelor of Science of Chemical Engineering and a BA in History.

He was secretary of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee that was responsible for the massacre of civilians in 1985 in Inopacan, Leyte.

When CPP Chairman Emeritus Jose Ma. Sison fled to the Neiterhlands, Tiamzon called the shots on almost all major party activities.

His wife Wilma, 61 she was previously the CPP’s secretary of the National Peasant Commission; executive committee member of the Regional Trade Union Bureau; finance officer of the CPP; and member of the Samahang Demokratikong Kabataan.

She was captured on Oct. 4, 1989 but after two months in detention in Camp Crame, she was able to escape on Dec. 25, 1989.

Govt girds for attacks as Joma hints at war

From the Manila Standard Today (Mar 24): Govt girds for attacks as Joma hints at war

AFP, NSA dread backlash; Sison sees ‘people’s war’

THE government is bracing for retaliatory attacks from communist rebels following the arrest of the chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines  Benito Tiamzon  and his wife Wilma Austria in Cebu Saturday.
National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia said the party’s armed wing, the New People’s Army, is also expected to launch more offensives to mark its anniversary on March 29.

Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said the military remained on red alert and expected a communist backlash.

In custody. Captured communist leaders Benito
and Wilma Tiamzon show defiance as they and five
other members of the CPP/NPA arrive in Camp
Crame for processing. Manny Palmero
“We are expecting that in the coming days,” he said.
Government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla acknowledged that the security situation would become more serious as the communist group closes ranks after the arrest of its top two leaders.

CPP founder  Jose Ma. Sison said “the CPP and NPA rank and file are more likely to intensify the people’s war.”

Sison said “my arrest in 1977 did  not stop the people’s war because the root causes of the armed conflict continued. Oppression and exploitation of the people continue,” he told the MST in an online interview.

He said the  Aquino regime has been violating an agreement by arresting and imprisoning NDFP consultants who are protected by a joint agreement.

“The arrest of Tiamzon and Austria might be the last straw. The Aquino regime is killing the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

But Garcia thought otherwise. “The arrest of the Tiamzon couple is a very big blow to the leadership of the CPP. There will be a leadership vacuum, but only for a while.”

Garcia said in a phone interview “they will likely re-consolidate and resolve factionalism within in favor of one faction.”

Padilla said Tiamzon’s successor, being younger and needing to prove his or her leadership, would likely respond with more attacks.

“The next echelon of leaders are a generation apart -- in their 40s to 50s. So it might be a little worse before it gets better,” Padilla said.

“There might be more violence to show nothing has changed within their ranks,” he added.

But a well-placed source in the intelligence community said the next CPP chairman could very well be one of the communist leaders who was previously arrested and eventually released for various reasons.

Among the CPP-NPA leaders who were recently released were Maria Luisa Pucray, Jaime Soledad, Jovencio Balweg, Angelina Ipong, Glicerio Pernia, and Ericson Acosta.

Pucray and Pernia have since returned underground.

National Democratic Front Mindanao spokesman Jorge Madlos, also known as Ka Oris, is also a possible successor. He has a P5.6 million bounty on his head.

Among the high-ranking communist leaders who are still detained are Tirso Alcantara, Alan Jazmines, Emeterio Antalan, Leopoldo Caloza, Pedro Codaste, Alfredo Mapano, Eduardo Sarmiento, Paterno Opo, Dario Tomada, and Marilyn Badayos-Condes.

Pesidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Armed Forces will be vigilant against possible retaliatory moves from the CPP-NPA.

“We are always fully aware of the possibility of retaliation, and our Armed Forces are always to defend the population,” Lacierda said.

Bautista said the arrest of the Tiamzons was a victory for the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.

“We will continue to strengthen our resolve to bring other criminals to justice in honor of the victims of the violence perpetrated by the CPP-NPA, and in honor of our people who deserve to live in a peaceful and developed society. We call on the rest of the CPP-NPA members to lay down their arms, abandon the armed struggle and return to the comfort of their families and join us in bringing peace and development to our nation,” he said in a statement.

By the military’s estimate, the Maoist-inspired 45-year-old communist rebellion, the longest in Asia, has claimed 30,000 lives.

“The New People’s Army is down to about 4,000 guerrillas from more than 26,000 in the late 1980s,” Bautista said.

But in its 45th anniversary statement, the CCP claimed the number of full-time NPA fighters had risen to more than 10,000.

In a statement, the CPP said the Tiamzons and their companions were in Cebu monitoring the rehabilitation work of the CPP-NPA in the Visayas when they were arrested.

A separate statement from NDFP chief Luis Jalandoni condemned the arrest as illegal because he said the Tiamzons and the five others were all peace consultants of the NDFP.

But the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process dismissed Jalandoni’s claim and said the rebels were not covered by the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees.

Bautista declined to comment on the issue.

“Any legal questions on the arrest and processing of the apprehended individuals will be answered by the Department of Justice including applicability of JASIG to their arrest,” he said.

He added, however, that the presidential adviser on the peace process said the guarantees were not applicable to Tiamzon’s wife because she jumped bail in 1989. He also said that the multiple murder charges against the couple were in relation to the killing of 15 civilians in Inopacan, Leyte, who were discovered in a mass grave in 2006.

“Tiamzon was then the Secretary of the Eastern Visayas Regional Committee when they murdered the civilians,” Bautista said.

Opinion: Pragmatism: Key to our foreign relations

Opinion piece in the Philippine Star (Mar 23): Pragmatism: Key to our foreign relations

We too recognize the practicality of maintaining cordial relations with a big economic power like China. While we probably need them more than they need us, we must continue to find ways in using economic ties as a way to reach out without having to sacrifice our integrity and sovereignty. After all, we have a lot of Filipino-Chinese businessmen who have established businesses in China that can be our “special envoys.”

The late vice president Doy Laurel was actually one of the first government officials to visit China in 1972. While Doy was known as an “American Boy” having gone to Yale Law School, he had the foresight and saw the need to establish special relations with China after meeting with Zhou En Lai. In fact, when we visited US President Richard Nixon at his Saddle River home in New Jersey, Nixon jokingly told then Vice President Laurel that only the two of them had the right foresight about China. (You may read more about Doy Laurel in the Allure section of the STAR today.)

In the final analysis, the practical approach regarding relations with other countries is the key to the survival of our country. Nationalism with pragmatism is still the best foreign policy.

As peace dawns, ‘lumad’ seek answers

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 23): As peace dawns, ‘lumad’ seek answers

ARUMANEN Datu Roldan Babelon and Timuay Santos Unsad of the Tedurays talk about their prospects in the Bangsamoro. GERMELINA LACORTE

Timuay Santos Unsad, a Teduray leader, knew Camp Omar ibn al-Khattab by heart, not as a camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), but as a site of a sacred stone that the Tedurays call “batew,” a brown stone as big as a hill that never stops growing.

Unsad said the stone, an important part in the rituals of the Tedurays, now lay very close to the base of Camp Omar, one of the government-recognized camps of the MILF that is contiguous with Camp Badre, another government-recognized MILF camp along the borders of Datu Saudi, Datu Unsay, Datu Hofer and Guindulungan towns of Maguindanao province.
But Unsad said it did not use to be that way.

What the government now recognizes as the site of the two MILF camps forms part of the 300,000-hectare ancestral domain claim of the Tedurays that at present, spanned the areas from the Maguindanao town of Awang to cover Dalikan, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Talayan, Guindulungan, to the upland areas of Datu Saudi, Datu Unsay, Datu Hofer, Ampatuan, Datu Abdullah Sangki, and the whole of North Upi, South Upi and Datu Blas Sinsuat towns.

“It was only in 1996, when the MILF entered the area without the consent of the Tedurays,” said Unsad, recalling how, in 1996, after his absence for so many years, he dropped by to visit his relatives near the Teduray ritual stone, and discovered to his surprise MILF checkpoints and how the MILF had established camps in the area.

“We don’t want to act as spoilers but there are issues that should be brought out in the open,” said another indigenous peoples’ (IP) leader, Arumanen Datu Roldan Babelon, who expressed a similar concern.

At least two of the indigenous peoples’ groups within the proposed Bangsamoro area want three of the six acknowledged MILF camps to be dropped  from the list, saying these camps are within their ancestral lands and not within MILF territories. They also expressed apprehension that their rights as indigenous peoples will just be set aside, just like what happened to the indigenous peoples’ lands in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where IP ancestral lands have never been delineated.

Aside from Camp Omar ibn al-Khattab and Camp Badre, which sits within the Teduray territory in Maguindanao, Camp Somiorang in Lanao del Sur province also sits within the Arumanen ancestral land and should be removed from the list of MILF camps that the government acknowledged in the normalization annex to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, said Babelon, an Arumanen tribal chieftain in Macabenban, Carmen town, in North Cotabato province.

Camp Somiorang sits near the boundaries of Wao in Lanao del Sur and Kalilangan town of Bukidnon province.

“Among the issues we cannot compromise on are issues about our territory, because it is where all the other issues, like our culture and identity, revolve around,” Babelon said.

Both indigenous peoples’ leaders, however, said they fully supported the MILF’s struggle for self-determination and that they were one with the people of Mindanao in the quest for  lasting peace. But they said they could not just sit back and keep quiet about how they felt the new political arrangement would affect their ancestral land claims.

Thumbing through the copy of a primer on the normalization annex to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Unsad looked worried and disturbed. Camps Badre and Omar are among the six previously acknowledged MILF camps, where former MILF combatants will be required to return to after the signing of the peace agreement to concentrate on development work.

“At stake here is the Tedurays’ claim to the land,” Unsad said.

“We want ourselves to be heard in the national level because if we keep quiet, the rights of indigenous peoples will be silenced forever inside the Bangsamoro political entity,” Unsad said.

Unsad said the Tedurays presented their position in a series of talks with the MILF central committee.

“They listened and told the Tedurays they’ll just borrow the area for the war and return it to the Tedurays during peacetime,” Unsad said.

His group also raised the issue to the government panel and to high-ranking officials of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, who assured them they will send someone to look into the problem.

“But until now, we are still waiting,” Unsad said.

“In our experience, it’s not good to keep quiet in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” said Timuay Alim Bandara, referring to the entity that will soon be replaced by the Bangsamoro.

Babelon explained that since the signing of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (Ipra), the delineation of the indigenous people’s domain has never been done in the ARMM because the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has never been set up in the area.

Unsad said  the Tedurays were only able to delineate some 300,000 ha of their land with the help of the nongovernment organization IP Dev.

“We do not pose a national threat, because we are not armed, that’s why we are not being listened to,” Babelon said.

The Arumanens’ ancestral domain covers some 500,000 to 600,000 ha within the North Cotabato, southern Bukidnon and part of Lanao del Sur areas.

Babelon also said  almost half of the 39 additional barangays in North Cotabato, which would soon be included in the Bangsamoro, were areas where Arumanens lived, and that two barangays were within the ancestral domain claims of the Arumanens.

Delinquent bidder corners DND contract

From the Manila Times (Mar 23): Delinquent bidder corners DND contract

There must be something special about the Philippine-based agent of a Turkish company, which has won contracts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND).

Last week, Roferma/MKE was declared by the DND Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) as the “lowest calculated bidder” for the supply contract for bullets and cartridges despite having contracts with the AFP that are in danger of termination because of delays in delivery.

Headed by ret. police Col. Romulo Maningding who belongs to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1978, the company participated in two biddings for contracts to supply 7.62 bullet components and cartridges worth P200 million.

The DND Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) declared the company as the “lowest calculated bidder” for offering a bid price of P122,880,000.

Roferma/MKE contended with two other contractors—a Brazilian contractor and a Korean supplier—despite receiving failing marks from the DND-BAC Technical Working Group (TWG) for falling short of a non-discretionary “pass/fail” criterion provided under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Law during the bid opening on March 6.

The DND-BAC even allowed Roferma/MKE to submit a motion for reconsideration (MR) to be able to qualify for the bidding after receiving a “failed” mark by the DND-BAC-TWG.

When documents submitted are found not to conform to the non-discretionary pass/fail criterion, the bidder is supposedly automatically disqualified.

The Manila Times, which served as an observer during the bidding procedure, learned that Roferma/MKE has four pending contracts already awarded to it by the AFP that suffered delays in delivery for over six months.

The said contracts are for the supply of ammunition worth P8 million to P49 million. The AFP already sent a notice of termination to the company for one of the contracts because of a six-month delay in the delivery of the subject ammunition. The company’s two other undertakings to supply ammunition to the AFP are also delayed for more than four months.

The P8-million contract, for example, which was awarded to Reforma/MKE on December 2012, with a 180-day delivery provision, has yet to be executed. The firm requested in June last year for an extension to September and is now about to be given a termination notice for the more than six-month delay in delivery.

Another contract worth over P49 million awarded in May 2013 that is supposed to be delivered in November 2013 is now over four months delayed while another contract worth over P47 million also awarded during the same period is also already four months delayed.

The fourth contract, which involved a P49.5-million supply contract, which was awarded in August 2013, has yet to be delivered this month.

Reforma/MKE, however, again requested for an extension of delivery next month.

As a rule, when the late delivery penalty exceeds more than 10 percent of the contract value, a contractor has to be blacklisted. Pending its blacklisting, a company should not be allowed to bid.

Further research revealed that MKE, a Turkish company, is represented by Roferma Enterprise, the same company which filed graft charges against former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Nicanor Bartolome and members of the PNP-BAC after losing in the bidding process for the supply contract for Glock 17 Generation 4 pistols worth around P1.2 billion.

On the other hand, Assistant Secretary Efren Fernandez, DND-BAC chairperson and a retired general from the PNP service who belongs to PMA Class of 1971, explained that although Roferma/MKE was declared as the “lowest calculated bidder” in the last bidding, it is not yet the sure winner and it may suffer disqualification during the post-qualification stage, when the TWG will again review the firm’s non-conforming technical documents.

“Our technical people [TWG] during the first stage of the bid opening have noticed discrepancies over the company’s technical documents that’s why he was given a failing remark. The Government Arsenal is the end user.

 Kung sinabing kailangan ng end user ng [If the end-user said it needs] orange for example, and here is a bidder participating telling us he has oranges and it turned out when the technical people found that he is only offering Ponkan, failed talaga ang recommendation [the recommendation will indeed be to declare the bidder as failed],” Fernandez explained.

Fernandez also denied having known Maninding.

Opinion: The tragedy of the Philippine Left

Opinion piece in the Manila Times (Mar 23): The tragedy of the Philippine Left

Rigoberto Tiglao
Captured Communist Party chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Austria, also a high-ranking cadre, are the embodiment of the Philippine left that was once a hope for the country, but has turned out to be a tragedy.

I knew the two, as they were members of the Communist Party’s eight-man Regional Committee for Metropolitan Manila and Rizal province that I headed in the early 1970s until our arrest and imprisonment in 1974.

Tiamzon headed our labor union operations, while Wilma headed a sub-regional organization covering Pasig and other Rizal eastern towns, and later on the regional committee’s “education bureau”—i.e., the unit in charge of educating the organization into Marxist worldview and strategy.

Benny and Wilma were exemplars of the core of the Left revolution (or attempted revolution) that emerged in the 1970s: lower and middle-class students just out of their teenaged years, disgusted over Philippine oligarchs and politics and the brazen social injustice of our country, and whose coming of age was in a period when the Left seemed on the verge of creating a new world.

Benny and Wilma were socially committed intellectuals. He was taking up political science while she took up sociology before they dropped out to become full-time activists.

It was Marcos’ martial law that drove thousands of students, including the best and the brightest, into the Communist Party. Those Marxist claims that the state was a violent instrument of the ruling class all of a sudden appeared at that time to be so true.

It would only be later that we—including Tiamzon—would learn that Party chairman Jose Sison in fact, and ironically, played a crucial role in the imposition of martial law: He ordered the Plaza Miranda bombing of Liberal Party leaders in August 1971. That created what Sison termed as another “revolutionary flow”, much needed when that which broke out in 1970 seemed to be dying out like some youthful fad.

That convinced Marcos about a year later to impose martial law which allowed him to remain in power beyond his second, and last term. The bombing gave him a good excuse that politics in the country had become too violent and anarchic that it needed strongman rule —as our neighbors in Southeast Asia had.

Benny didn’t come from a rich family, but he certainly wasn’t poor. His family either had a small business or a farm in Marikina. Wilma, thin as Mia Farrow at that time, I thought, was more well off, and lived in a middle-class neighborhood in Pasig. As is the story of many middle and upper class couples, they met as students at the University of the Philippines.


 Benny and Wilma wandered into the Revolution through the Samahang Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK), which in the late 1960s consisted of mostly U.P. anti-establishment intellectuals, the Pinoy version of hippies, and even well-off bums claiming “existential angst” who got into Marxism since their idol Jean Paul Sartre had also embraced leftist politics. It was also a kind of imported fad. The “SDK” acronym alluded to the radical American SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), that rattled the US Establishment.

The SDK was totally different from the purportedly more militant Kabataang Makabayan. Sison organized the KM as the task given him as head of the youth bureau of the pro-USSR Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas. That was before he broke away from it to embrace “Mao Tse Tung Thought” and establish his own Party—not coincidentally in 1969 when Sino-Soviet relations broke down.

After the massive student demonstrations of 1970, which became the political debut of Sison’s party, the KM would be the recruitment organization for the CPP, with wide-eyed teenagers gradually convinced that it was only US imperialist propaganda that made communism seem so bad. There wasn’t an Internet at that time to check those claims.

It was after the SDK leadership in 1970 became Party members and took orders from the Party’s Youth and Students Bureau that there was a mass recruitment of their full-time activists, including Benny and Wilma, into the communist ranks organization.

Most of us in the regional committee, including Benny and Wilma, were arrested in July 1974.

Benny and I had a falling out days after our arrest, which turned out to be a permanent one. A few days in the cramped cell in Camp Crame, I started doing some yoga exercises and even sat in the lotus position —to keep my wits. Benny made fun of it, and even comically assumed the lotus pose. I got mad, jumped from my second-level cot, shouted at him with so many “p’ words. In my rage, I can’t even remember now if I did hit him.

A silly, juvenile brawl? Precisely. We were in our early twenties, pretending to be Che Guevarras with one comrade even idolizing Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (“The Jackal”) so much that he named his son after the Venezuelan terrorist.

Idealistic, gullible

That was what our Party and the Revolution mostly consisted of: Young men just out of their teens, so idealistic that, after the ruling class is overthrown, we will create society without poor people, but so gullible we believed Albania led by Enver Hoxa was a Maoist paradise in Europe.

That was a lifetime ago, and many of the Maoist revolutionaries have taken different paths.

The dear leader Sison is in the Netherlands, together with National Democratic Front head Luis Jalandoni, enjoying the lifestyle of the most liberal country on earth. His right-hand man, Jose Luneta, reportedly for some queer reason lives in Germany, while his finance man is a Spanish citizen. I wanted an academic life, but had wandered into journalism. Some of the third-generation of revolutionaries—the likes of Teodoro Casino—are enjoying the perks and power of being a congressman.

Many of my comrades then, such as my close friend Ferdie Arceo, were killed in firefights with the military. Some couldn’t adjust to a normal life, becoming alcoholics until their cirrhosis killed them in some urban poor house. One of Sison’s closest operatives and propagandist lives now very comfortably in Canada, but still ranting against US imperialism.

Some are still high-ranking cadres, claiming to represent the masses, but who go home in the evening to their upper-middle class homes. Others have stayed on, and now are in their 60s, toothless because there are no communist dentists with them in the mountain guerilla zones, and with utterly no plans and finances for their twilight years on earth.

And after more than three decades, the Philippines continue to be poor. Social equity and injustice are still as prevalent, even worse today.

The cigarette vendor you see through your car window, the domestic help in your house, your gardener will never get out of their godforsaken class, and so will their children and their children’s children. Overseas work—our nation’s escape valve—isn’t available to them, as they haven’t even finished high school.

Although their efforts didn’t totally make theirs egalitarian societies, unarmed socialist, or just even just trade union movements in the US, Europe (especially Scandinavia), and Great Britain were successful in enacting laws to force capitalism to devote more of its output for the masses’ welfare.

If not for such leftist movements, there wouldn’t be such things as universal, free medical care and education, huge unemployment and retirement benefits, cheap mass transit systems, high taxation rates for the rich, in most advanced countries today.


There is the tragedy of the Left in the Philippines. What it tried to wipe out in our country, poverty and inequality, have become worse after three decades. The Left hadn’t changed that a bit.

The Left has even made us poorer: Why would both local and foreign businessmen do business in “communist-infested areas?

The best—or worst—example of this was the NPA’s kidnapping of Japanese Mitsui executive Nobuyuki Wakaoji in 1987.

That was the period during which Japanese capital—for various reasons such as the yen depreciation—invested abroad in such massive scale as never before seen. It was the flood of Japanese capital into Malaysia and Thailand that triggered their amazing economic growth in the 1980s and 90s. But at that time, because of the Wakaoji kidnapping, Japanese companies evaded the Philippines like there was a plague here.

People like Benny and Wilma devoted their lives for a cause they believed would end poverty and the cruel exploitation of man by man. Now, Benny and Wilma aren’t charged with subversion, but for multiple murder and attempted murder, joining the league of Ampatuans charged for the Maguindanao massacre.

The ruling class of the 1960s are richer now, included in listings of the world’s billionaires —and foreign businesses are raking it in here because the price of labor continues to go down, as it would in a poor society.
The tragedy of the Left is that of our country.

CPP/NPA: 54th IB, binigwasan ng BHB sa Ifugao!

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 21): 54th IB, binigwasan ng BHB sa Ifugao!

Wigan Moncontad
NPA Ifugao Provincial Operations Command (Nona del Rosario Command)
Inisnayp ng isang yunit ng Nona del Rosario Command New People’s Army (NPA) -Ifugao ang tropa ng 54th Infantry Batallion habang ito ay nagsasagawa ng combat operations sa Barangay Camandag, Asipulo, Ifugao noong Marso 21, 2014.

Dalawa ang sugatan sa kaaway habang ligtas namang nakaatras ang mga Pulang Mandirigma.

Ito’y bahagi ng pamamarusa ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa berdugong 54th IB sa sunud-sunod na paglabag ng karapatang pantao at paghahasik ng takot sa hanay ng mamamayan ng Ifugao.

Isa na rito ang pananalakay ng mga tropa nito sa Sitio Hikot, Barangay Camandag, Asipulo noong Oktubre 20, 2013 habang nasa loob ng barrio ang mga Pulang Mandirigma. Walang pagsasaalang-alang sa buhay ng mga masa na nasa barrio, sunud-sunod na nagpaputok ng baril at machine gun ang tropa ng 54th IB na nagdulot ng labis na takot sa mga masa. Walang ding pakundangan na sinira ng nanalakay na militar ang pananim ng masa sa kanilang mga payaw (bukirin). Patuloy din ang pagkakampo ng 54th IB sa mga eskwelahan, health center at barangay hall. Ang mga nabanggit ay lantarang paglabag sa Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

“Ito ay umpisa lamang ng ating pagbigwas at pagpapanagot sa berdugong hukbo ng mapagsamantalang-uri. Ito rin ay isang hamon upang palakasin ang pagkakaisa at paglaban ng hukbo at mamamayan para sa tunay at ganap panlipunang pagbabago,” ani ni Ka Wigan Moncontad, tagapagsalita ng Nona del Rosario Command, NPA-Ifugao.

CPP/NPA: Punish the 41st Infantry Batallion for the Baay-Licuan massacre!

NPA propaganda statement just posted to the CPP Website (Mar 9): Punish the 41st Infantry Batallion for the Baay-Licuan massacre!
Diego Wadagan
NPA Abra Provincial Operations Command (Agustin Begnalen Command)
After the February 16, 2014 firefight in Lenneng, Baay-Licuan between the NPA Red Fighters and elements of the 41st IB, the fascist troops unleashed terrorism on the people of Barangay Lenneng, and nearby barangays of Baay-Licuan and Lacub. Illegal searches, interrogation and detention were conducted by the soldiers.

Among others, a particular incident took place on February 22, 2014. At about 1PM at Sitio Patong, soldiers detained Fermin Ligiw, a small-scale miner and resident of Sitio Sucao, Barangay Dominglay, Baay-Licuan. He was illegally detained and interogated, and was forced to guide the soldiers towards Mt. Inuman. He was then held captive near their swidden farm, while others illegally searched Freddie Ligiw’s nipa hut. The said nipa hut is strategically situated near a cellsite between the towns of Lacub and Baay-Licuan, and is the usual route of operating troops. The soldiers confiscated a shotgun commonly used by locals for hunting. He was released at 8pm.

On March 3, 2014, Jessie Ligiw, a brother of Fermin, left his brothers and their father in their nipa hut. On his way to Sitio Dominglay, he saw soldiers of the 41st IB approach the mountain ridge near their nipa hut. Upon his return in the afternoon of March 3, 2014, Jessie was shocked that their nipa hut was in disarray, his brothers and father were nowhere to be found and that farm tools particularly used for digging were also missing. On March 4, 2014, Jessie alerted the barrio folks of Dominglay and nearby barangays about the absence of 3 members of the Ligiw family: Fermin Ligiw, his elder brother Eddie, and their father Licoben. On March 5, some of the barrio folks started searching for the missing Ligiws. And on March 6 and 7, a full mobilization of the people of Dominglay and neigboring barangays was launched in search of the missing Ligiws, with local barangay and LGU officials, people’s organizations and cause-oriented groups joining the search.

The people’s worst fear was confirmed in the afternoon of March 7, when what seems to be a recently dug gravesite was found. The shallow grave was found at the other side of the mountain ridge, already within the municipal territory of Lacub town. And on March 8, exhumation of the bodies in the said gravesite confirmed the brutal massacre of the three (3) Ligiw family members.

The people immediately condemned the 41st IB for the cruel and terroristic murders. There was no question among the majority of the people that the 41st IB is responsible of the dastardly acts. Only officers and soldiers of the AFP, particularly those of the 41st IB, 503rd Brigade, are notorious for human rights violations, deeply ingrained in the people’s memory from brutal experiences in the 70’s to the early 90’s, and again since 2003 to the present.

It is utterly stupid for 41st IB propagandists to claim that the NPA is responsible for the massacre. There is no reason at all for the NPA to do such an evil act. In fact, Fermin Ligiw is a former NPA, who was recently asking for re-admission to the NPA. The 41st IB might have suspected this and had this flimsy basis for the brutal and senseless killing of the 3 Ligiw family members. It is doubly foolish for the 41st Infantry Batallion, led by Lt. Col. Domingo, to specifically accuse one ot the NPA’s as the perpetrator, as the said comrade is a cousin of Licoben Ligiw.

The officers and soldiers of the 41st IB responsible for the massacre should be punished!

The people are fed up with the AFP’s deceit and human rights violations. They should launch sustained protest actions and evict AFP troops and para-military groups in their communities and tribal territories. Tinggians and Ilocanos of Abra should unite and forge unity against fascism and militarization, against large-scale mining, and in furtherance of agrarian revolution. Indemnification for the families and punishment for the human rights violators should be pursued through various means and venues.

We challenge the barangay and LGU officials to heed their constituents’ demands and fight for their aspiration to have peaceful communities free from the AFP’s atrocious presence, and based on social justice. We challenge the church leaders, especially the members of the Chuch-Military Advisory Group (CMAG) to protect their flock, dissociate themselves from the fascist murderers, and take the side of the people.

We commit revolutionary justice for the Ligiw family, and other victims of human rights violations. The brutal murders shall be avenged.

We pay our highest tribute to the Ligiw family, especially to Fermin, for selfless revolutionary service and sacrifice. Their martyrdom is an inspiration to the revolutionary movement, and their deaths will fan the flame of revolutionary struggle.

Long live the shining memory of the Ligiw family!
Justice for the Baay-Licuan Massacre victims!
Punish the 41st Infantry Battalion!

CPP/KM: KM condemns Tiamzons’ capture, part of Aquino’s bienvenida gift to Obama

NDF/KM propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 22): KM condemns Tiamzons’ capture, part of Aquino’s bienvenida gift to Obama
Ma. Laya Guerrero
Kabataang Makabayan
The Kabataang Makabayan (KM), revolutionary mass organization of the youth condemns in the highest terms the illegal arrest of Ka Wilma Austria-Tiamzon and Benito Tiamzon, and other comrades by the combined forces of the Philippine military, CIDG and local police in Cebu.

“Almost three weeks before the reported arrival of US President Obama, the Aquino is one by one revealing the bienvinida gift to Obama like a very true lackey,” said KM spokesperson Ma. Laya Guerrero.

KM demands the unconditional release of the Tiamzons who also serve as NDFP consultants.

According to KM, the arrest of the Ka Wilma and Benito Tiamzons and companions are so far on Aquino’s palpable top list of gifts to US imperialism, including the increased presence and stationing of United States armed forces and lethal weapons in the shores and land of the country, and the push for Charter change in favor of full foreign equity to land, services and investments in the country in exchange of Aquino’s pogi points.

“The AFP’s and the fascist Aquino regime claims that the revolution will be crippled with their capture of the Tiamzons is sinking propaganda.”

“So long as the country is mired with poverty and injustice, so long as the Aquino government stinks with corruption and never heed the peoples most basic needs and rights, the more youth will rise up and seek for revolutionary change.”

“So long as ordinary people face the oppressive pangs of the state forces under the fascist Oplan Bayanihan, the more youth will emerge, embrace revolution and join the formidable ranks of the New Peoples Army to overthrow this rotten system maintained by Aquino regime and his military,” said Guerrero.

MILF: Community dialogue on FAB held in Kabacan, North Cotabato

Posted to the MILF Website (Mar 23): Community dialogue on FAB held in Kabacan, North Cotabato

A community dialogue on Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro FAB) and Its Four Annexes was held on March 20 at the Peace and reconciliation Center, Barangay Magatos, Kabacan, North Cotabato with the Theme: “Unity and Solidarity towards Peace and Sustainable Development.
The activity was the initiative of the Chairman of MILF Provincial Committee of North Cotabato, with the support of his family /clan members, provincial sectorial representatives and the standing committees in the province.

The dialogue was attended by approximately 700 participants from Pidtaman ,Ambil,  Matalam, Mantawil and Montawal  Clans and MILF and MNLF members from their respective families also attended with the participation of non-Muslim and indigenous people.

In his message, the MILF provincial Chairman of North Cotabato, announced and introduced the Chairman of the Reconciliation Committee of North Cotabato Sabila Simbuangan and his members Datu Mando “Manny” Pidtamanan, Saron Balayan, Bucth Sandigan, Talib Comama, Badti Acoy.

He cited the need for the reconciliation committee in the province to help handle conflict and support peace advocacy programs.

Speakers were the head of the Secretariat of the Committee on Information-MILF Central Committee who gave updates on the GPH-MILF Peace Process, Executive Director Moidjoddin K. Talusob of Kalilintad Development Foundation Inc. who delved on Islamic orientations and Prof. Esmael Abdula, Chairman of the Campaign and Mass Mobilization, Sub -Committee on Information, Committee on Information, MILF CC and member of the Steering Committee of Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) who discussed the FAB and its Annexes.

Lone Moro North Cotabato Provincial Board Member Kilie Antao representing the 1st District of the province and Chair of Provincial Peace and Order Committee;   Datu Mando “Manny”  Pedtamanan, a third termer Municipal Councilor  of Kabacan and now a member of the Peace and Order Committee of the Province of North Cotabato and Jabib Guiabar, Local Monitoring Team of the Province of North Cotabato and  a representative from the office 1st Vice Chairman MILF CC.

The activity ended with an open forum with all issues and concerns raised by the participants answered intelligently by the speakers.

Negotiations over; GPH, MILF initial Bangsamoro pact

From MindaNews (Mar 23): Negotiations over; GPH, MILF initial Bangsamoro pact

After 17 years, the Philippine government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) finally ended peace negotiations on Saturday, March 22, with the initialing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) at 3:45 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur, five days before the March 27 formal signing rites in Malacanang.

“It was like coming home after a long, difficult journey when there were times you almost forgot what home looked like. I’m home – we made it! But, yes, can’t ever forget there’s lots more hard work ahead,” Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles described to MindaNews in a text message how she felt when she was informed by phone that the CAB had been initialled.

READY FOR MARCH 27. An artist prepares a silkscreen for printing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front flaglet at his shop along the national highway in Cotabato City on March 22, 2014. He sells the  flaglets for thirty pesos in preparation for the March 27 formal signing in Malacanang of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and the MILF.  The CAB was initialed in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday afternoon, March 22. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

READY FOR MARCH 27. An artist prepares a silkscreen for printing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front flaglet at his shop along the national highway in Cotabato City on March 22, 2014. He sells the flaglets for thirty pesos in preparation for the March 27 formal signing in Malacanang of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and the MILF. The CAB was initialed in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday afternoon, March 22. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The panels were actually expected to initial the document on Friday, March 21 but the supposed one-day meeting was extended until Saturday.

March 21 was exactly 14 years to the day then President Joseph Estrada declared in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, his administration’s “all-out war” against the MILF.

“Done,” said GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer in a text message to MindaNews from KL. “Wala nang urungan ito” (There’s no backing out), Ferrer said of the March 27 formal signing.

“Everything is settled. Signed all TORs (Terms of Reference) and CAB initialled,” MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal’s text message to MindaNews read.


Iqbal was referring to the TORs for the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC), Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) and Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

The JNC is tasked to undertake the primary function of coordinating the processes of normalization while the IDB is tasked to oversee the process of decommissioning of MILF forces and weapons.

The IDB shall be composed of three foreign experts, including the chair, and local experts jointly nominated by the GPH and MILF. The parties shall invite three states to provide the foreign experts.

The TJRC is tasked to undertake a study and recommend to the panels the appropriate mechanisms for transitional justice and reconciliation.

Under the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed on October 15, 2012, the Parties agreed to “work out a program for transitional justice to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, correct historical injustices, and address human rights violations.”

Only a few members of the peace panels were in Kuala Lumpur for the initialing. The GPH had panel chair Ferrer, members Senen Bacani and Bai Yasmin Lao, and chief legal counsel Anna Tarhata Basman while the MILF had Iqbal, head of secretariat Jun Mantawil and Bangsamoro Transition Commission executive director Mike Pasigan.

All eight members of the International Contact Group (ICG) composed of four states and four international non-governmental organizations were also present.

The last time the panels met in Kuala Lumpur was in January where they signed the Annex on Normalization, the last of the four annexes to the FAB on January 25. Also signed that day was the Addendum on Bangsamoro waters.

It was during the January meeting when the two panels agreed to refer to the final document as the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro or CAB instead of the “comprehensive peace agreement.’

Under the FAB which was signed on October 15, 2012, the panels agreed that the status quo is unacceptable and that they would work for the creation of a new autonomous political entity called the Bangsamoro, to replace the 24-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), by June 30, 2016.

The ARMM’s three-year term (2013 to 2016) will be cut short to give way to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) which will take over from the ARMM when the Bangsamoro Basic Law is ratified.

March 31 deadline

The 15-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which is drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is scheduled to submit the draft law to President Aquino on March 31, just four days after the signing of the CAB.

WELCOME BANGSAMORO GOVERNMENT. A vendor staples a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) flaglet to its barbecue stick pole in a shop in Cotabato City on March 22, 2014. He sells the flaglets for thirty pesos in preparation for the March 27 formal signing in Malacanang of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and the MILF.  The CAB was initialed in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday afternoon, March 22. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

WELCOME BANGSAMORO GOVERNMENT. A vendor staples a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) flaglet to its barbecue stick pole in a shop in Cotabato City on March 22, 2014. He sells the flaglets for thirty pesos in preparation for the March 27 formal signing in Malacanang of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and the MILF. The CAB was initialed in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday afternoon, March 22. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Based on the FAB, the BTC was created through an executive order in December 2012. Its members were named on February 25, 2013 and work began in April that year. The BTC targeted April 2014 for submission of the draft but changed its target date to March 31 following a courtesy call on President Aquino on January 30, 2014.

The FAB provides for four annexes that both parties committed to complete by yearend 2012. But they were unable to follow their timeline. Aside from the Annex on Normalization, the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities was signed in February; the Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing in July; the Annex on Power-Sharing in December with both parties agreeing to tackle the contentious Bangsamoro Waters issue as an addendum to the annexes on power- and wealth-sharing; and the Annex on Normalization in January.

PA committed to nation building -- Army Commander

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): PA committed to nation building -- Army Commander

Aside from its primary role of defending the country against internal and external threats, the Philippine Army (PA) expressed its commitment in further developing the nation.

This pledge was made by Army commander, Major Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri during the 117th founding anniversary of the PA Saturday.

"We are an Army that is united with the people, in the spirit of 'Bayanihan', with revitalized civil-military operations and broader engagement undertakings with stakeholders. Whether it be for relief, for civilian empowerment, for values formation, the Army is capable, ready, and responsive," he added.

"Our troops have shown these last year during our humanitarian assistance and relief operations in the areas devastated by Supertyphoon 'Yolanda' and the earthquake in Bohol," Iriberri stressed.

The PA chief added that the Filipino Army is committed to the global effort to build peace and spread the dividends of a connected global village. Our friends from all over the world, represented here by foreign armed forces attaches, provide us the opportunity to pursue training, joint exercises, and activities that enhance defense relations.

"The spirit of 117 years of service drives us to constantly perform, and inspires us to respond and take responsibility," Iriberri concluded.

No violation in arrest of top CPP-NPA officials -- OPAPP

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): No violation in arrest of top CPP-NPA officials -- OPAPP

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on Sunday rejected declarations that the arrest of top officials of the Community Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) was a violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).

It can be recalled that National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni has protested that the arrest of CPP-NPA secretary general and chairman, Wilma and Benito Tiamzon, respectively is illegal since both are covered by Jasig.

“You will recall that both the (NDFP) and the GPH (government of the Philippines) agreed to a procedure in July 2011 to verify the true identities of several dozen alleged (NDFP) consultants in the list of Jasig –protected individuals carrying aliases,” the OPAPP statement indicated.

“But through no fault of government, the (NPFP) failed to open their own files that purportedly contained the photos and true identities of the said NDF consultants,” it further said.

OPAPP noted that the failure had the effect of rendering the Jasig inoperative for those using aliases and those who are not directly involved in the peace process.

“If indeed Benito Tiamzon was listed under an alias, he is no longer covered by the Jasig,” OPAPP stated.

“Wilma Austria Tiamzon, on the other hand, jumped bail when she escaped from detention on December 26, 1989, when there were no peace talks, and six years before the Jasig came into effect,” it added.

OPAPP said that therefore, Mrs. Tiamzon is ineligible for Jasig protection, even assuming she was identified in the Jasig list by her real name.

“To sustain their claim to Jasig protection is ridiculous because that would mean they can wage war and violence against government and when caught, claim Jasig protection and expect to be released. It is even more outrageous considering that the peace negotiations have not moved for over a year now,” OPAPP said.

“And while we continue to be opened to the resumption of the talks, last December, the CPP called for the overthrow of the Aquino government, saying they will just wait for a new administration before they go back to the table,” it added.

The OPAPP ended its statement saying that CPP-NPA is well aware of the effects of the failed verification but only had themselves to blame for rendering the Jasig inoperative for most of their alleged consultants.

Arrest of Tiamzons a great step forward for peace -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 23): Arrest of Tiamzons a great step forward for peace -- AFP

The arrest of ranking New People's Army (NPA) leaders, Wilma and Benito Tiamzon, is a big contribution to the government's efforts to end insurgency in the country, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista said Sunday.

"It is a great step forward ( in government efforts) to finally put an end to armed struggle," he added.

Bautista also lauded the AFP units and their police counterparts for their successful operation which resulted in the arrest of the Tiamzons.

The two were flown out from Cebu via Philippine Air Force F-27 plane and now in the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Camp Crame.

Wilma Tiamzon is the Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army while her husband, Benito, is the Chairman of the CPP-NPA.

The two were arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for their crimes against humanity that include murder, multiple murders, and frustrated murder around 3:15 p.m. in Barangay Zaragosa, Aluginsan town, Cebu Saturday.

The couple was charged for multiple murder originally issued by Branch 18 in Hilongos, Leyte but now transferred to Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 under Judge Mario Dela Cruz.

This charge is in relation to the involvement of the Tiamzons in the brutal killing of 15 civilians in Inopacan, Leyte who they later buried in a mass grave that was discovered in 2006.

Benito was then the Secretary of the Eastern Visayas Regional Committee when they murdered the civilians.

He began as a student activist and went on to organize labor unions in the 1970s.

Tiamzon met his wife Wilma Austria in the underground movement and they bore a daughter.

Bautista declined to comment on how the arrest of the Tiamzons would affect the rebel movement.

But he expressed hope that the remaining NPA fighters, which is placed at 4,000, will now realize the futility of armed struggle and violence of more than four decades and realize the suffering it has entailed for a lot of innocent civilians.

"There are peaceful options, that is not the way to pursue any ideological or political agenda and there is a more peaceful way and more civilized way, armed struggle is a jurassic methodology, its barbaric, it has no place in this modern world," the AFP chief stressed.

Arrested with Tiamzons were Rex G. Villaflor, of Makati City; Nona C. Castillo, Consolacion, Cebu; Joel E. Enano, Buhatan, Sorsogon; Jeosi M. Nepa, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu; and Arlene J Panea, Mactan, Cebu.

Seized from their possession were a Colt .45 caliber pistol, a Norinco 9mm pistol, one Kimber 9mm pistol, a .357 Smith and Wesson revolver, three magazines and 17 rounds of ammunition for .45 caliber pistol, one magazine and nineteen rounds of 9mm pistol, six bullets for the .357 revolver and two hand grenades.

Aside from this, also seized were four laptops, 16 cellular phones and 20 flash drives.

Nat'l Democratic Front condemns arrest of Tiamzon couple

From Rappler (Mar 23): Nat'l Democratic Front condemns arrest of Tiamzon couple

'ILLEGAL ARRESTS.' Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, slams the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma. Photo from
'ILLEGAL ARRESTS.' Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, slams the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma. Photo from

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) slammed the arrest of senior communist rebel leaders for crimes against humanity Saturday, March 22.

Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator of the NDFP in peace talks with the government, said in a statement that the NDFP "condemns in the strongest terms" the "illegal arrest" of Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma.

Jalandoni said the Tiamzons are NDFP consultants – contrary to the statement of Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Emmanuel Bautista that Benito Tiamzon is the chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army and that Wilma Tiamzon is the secretary general of the rebel group.

"Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria are NDFP Consultants who have fulfilled and are fulfilling highly significant tasks in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP/GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)," Jalandoni said in a statement.

Tiamzons protected by guarantees

For the NDFP, the arrest violated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed by the government and the rebel group as part of the peace talks.

Jalandoni said that, under the agreement, the Tiamzon couple is entitled to safe conduct and free passage for the duration of the peace negotiations.
The agreement was signed when incumbent 1-BAP Representative Silvestro Bello III was still the government chief negotiator.

"The NDFP vigorously demands that Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria be immediately and unconditionally released," Jalandoni said.

"This latest flagrant violation of the JASIG by the Aquino regime, in addition to so many other gross violations of the JASIG, most seriously prejudices the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations," he added.

Wilma Tiamzon is a holder of NDFP Document of Identification ND978226 under her real name while Benito Tiamzon is the holder of NDFP Document of Idenfication ND978227 under the assumed name "Crising Banaag." Both leaders had acknowledgment letters from Silvestre Bello III, Jalandoni said.

Police and military forces nabbed the Tiamzon couple and 5 others in Cebu Saturday afternoon, March 22. They are facing charges for crimes against humanity, including murder, multiple murder, and frustrated murder.

Tiamzons were overseeing rehab work in Yolanda areas

From Rappler (Mar 23): Tiamzons were overseeing rehab work in Yolanda areas

PRIZED CATCH. The military shows pictures of the Tiamzon couple on Sunday, March 23. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

PRIZED CATCH. The military shows pictures of the Tiamzon couple on Sunday, March 23. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

Alleged Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Austria were looking into the conditions of the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) at the time of their arrest, according to the CPP in a statement posted on its website on Sunday, March 23.

"At the time of their arrest, both Tiamzon and Austria were performing tasks and duties assigned to them by the CPP and the NDFP. Up to recently, both were busy conducting first hand investigation into the conditions of the working class people in the Visayas region whose lives were devastated by supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan)," the statement said.

"Despite their age and health conditions, both Tiamzon and Austria continue to travel great distances in the rural areas in order to reach the farthest peasant homes and be among the most downtrodden masses. Unlike Aquino who was totally clueless of the conditions of the people in the path of supertyphoon Yolanda, Tiamzon and Austria were among the peasant masses when the winds ravaged through the Visayas," the statement added.

Before the couple's arrest in Cebu on Saturday, March 22, the military said they were were being monitored in Samar, one of the provinces hardest hit by Yolanda, the most powerful typhoon ever recorded. Tiamzon was a senior party official in the Eastern Visayas before he assumed the party's top post, according to government intelligence. (READ: Benito Tiamzon: Writer, organizer, party man)

The CPP maintained that Tiamzon and Austria have immunity from arrest under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) because both are consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the CPP's political wing that is negotiating a peace deal with the government.

"The NDFP has further identified both Tiamzon and Austria as holders of documents of identification counter-verified by then officials of the GPH," the CPP said.

Government chief negotiatior Alex Padilla said the verification process failed, however. The NDF supposedly failed to submit the data file that would list the aliases and attach photos of "underground" personalities covered by JASIG. (READ: CPP chief, wife not covered by immunity)

Reds' relief efforts

The CPP in December 2013 declared it was abandoning peace talks with the Aquino government but the movement never formalized this.

After the Tiamzons' arrest, the party stepped up its criticism of President Benigno Aquino III, blaming the continued suffering of Yolanda victims on "the Aquino regime’s antipeople, crony-controlled, corrupt, and grossly inept response to the calamity."

The CPP paints Tiamzon and Austria as the "opposite of the landlord Aquino and his coterie of corrupt officials."

"Tiamzon and Austria are the epitome of simple living. Neither of them own a private home nor drive their own sportscar. Neither do they play with guns for fun or personal satisfaction," the statement said.

"They were receiving reports from NPA commands about efforts to mobilize Red fighters to help build communal farms, till the land and mobilize and distribute seeds and other agricultural resources from the NDFP."

Tiamzon "was personally looking into studies estimating the actual damage on agriculture and fisheries to be at P75-80 billion, contrary to the Aquino regime’s grossly understated estimate of P15 billion which helps justify the allocation of bigger funds to his crony’s big business infrastructure projects," the CPP statement said.

Yolanda killed at least 6,000 people and left about 4 million homeless.