Top CPP leaders arraigned for 26-year-old crimes

Natashya Gutierrez
Top CPP leaders arraigned for 26-year-old crimes
The Tiamzon couple's counsel slams the 'surprise' charges filed against his clients

MANILA, Philippines – Alleged Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leaders Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma Austria were arraigned on Tuesday, April 8, before a Quezon City court for crimes dating back to 1988  – the alleged kidnapping and serious illegal detention of military officers in Quezon province. 

The couple’s counsel, Ed Olalia, slammed the “surprise” charges filed against his clients. Wilma was reportedly informed by their custodian about the arraignment about 4 pm on Monday. The lawyers did not have time to get the records from the court.

The couple refused to enter a plea, prompting the judge to enter a “not guilty” plea for them.

“We haven’t seen the case at all. It was late afternoon when Wilma was informed by their custodian. It’s a surprise in that sense,” Olalia told Rappler in a phone interview. 

The Tiamzons were arrested in Cebu last month for alleged crimes against humanity, including murder, multiple murder, and frustrated murder charges. They were also accused of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Olalia claimed the firearms were “planted.” He also protests that until now they have not been furnished a copy of the warrants of arrest against the couple. (READ: CPP chief, wife nabbed in Cebu)

The military considers Benito Tiamzon as the “center of gravity” of the CPP-NPA-NDF here in the Philippines as the acting party chairman. The military holds Tiamzon responsible for the “landmining, the killings, and the violence of the NPA.” (READ: Benito Tiamzon: Writer, organizer, party man)

Olalia sought to defer the arraignment until Friday, April 11, to allow them to read the 7 volumes of evidence, but the judge turned down the request.

The pre-trial is scheduled on May 19. Trial proper will begin the following day, May 20, and will continue on May 26-28.

The case againt the Tiamzon couple was initially filed before the justice department in 2003, during the term of former President Gloria Arroyo. A court in Lucena, Quezon, held several hearings against the other accused. It’s not clear when the case was transferred to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. – Rappler.com

 

 

 

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