Communist Party of the Philippines

After 8 months, CPP confirms death of party leaders, the Tiamzons

Jairo Bolledo

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

After 8 months, CPP confirms death of party leaders, the Tiamzons

TIAMZON COUPLE. Benito and Wilma Tiamzon are photographed after their arrest in this file photo.

Rappler file photo

The CPP's statement contradicts the military's report that the couple was killed in an encounter

MANILA, Philippines – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), confirmed on Thursday, April 20, that Benito Tiamzon (Ka Laan) and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon (Ka Bagong-tao) were among the rebels killed in Samar eight months ago.

The press release issued by Marco Valbuena, the party’s chief information officer, confirmed that Benito and Wilma were killed along with eight others on August 21, 2022. At the time of their death, Benito was the party’s executive committee chairperson, while his wife served as the CPP’s secretary general.

Eight other rebels from the guerrilla force of the party’s central headquarters were also killed along with the couple. They include Joel Arceo (Ka Divino), a subregional secretary in Eastern Visayas, Ka Yen, Ka Jaja, Ka Matt, Ka Ash, Ka Delfin, Ka Lupe, and Ka Butig.

The CPP said the Tiamzons, who were unarmed, were traveling in two separate vehicles along the national highway near Catbalogan City when they were flagged down between 12 to 1 pm. After that, the party lost communication with them, the CPP said.

Based on the information gathered by the CPP Central Committee, the Tiamzons allegedly suffered severe beating by their captors. Some witnesses also testified “how the faces and bodies of the victims were smashed, apparently beaten with hard objects,” the party added.

The CPP also disputed the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) report that the Tiamzons were killed after their boat exploded in an encounter with military forces in Samar. The communist group said the “claimed mid-sea firefight and explosion” were all “drama” made by the military to hide evidence of the “ignominy of their fascist crime.”

“In truth, the already lifeless bodies of the Tiamzons and their group were dumped on a motorboat filled with explosives, and tugged from Catbalogan midway towards Taranganan island before it was detonated. Only eight bodies were subsequently retrieved by the military,” the CPP added.

Meanwhile, the CPP also announced that a 21-gun salute will be offered for the Tiamzons on April 24 – the 50th founding anniversary of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The Tiamzon couple was convicted by a Quezon City court for kidnapping and serious illegal detention in November 2020. They were never seen since they were ordered rearrested by a Manila court in 2018.

In 2016, the couple was released after being in prison for years to participate as NDFP consultants in the botched 2016 Oslo peace talks.

AFP’s version

The CPP’s statement contradicts the military’s version of events. On August 22, 2022, the Philippine military said a motorboat exploded off the coast of Catbalogan in Samar during an encounter with AFP soldiers and an unidentified group of people. A Facebook page associated with defense and security alerts said the Tiamzon couple had died in the said explosion.

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8-month chase leads to sinking of ‘communist VIPs’ in Samar waters

8-month chase leads to sinking of ‘communist VIPs’ in Samar waters

Read the parts 2 and 3 of the report here:

(Part 2: Air, land, river operations put rebels in Samar on the defensive)
(Part 3: Wounded land: The cost of war in Samar)

Then-commander of the 8th Infantry Division, Major General Edgardo de Leon, said there were “strong reasons to believe the casualties were NPA VIPs (New People’s Army-Very Important Persons). The alleged encounter started from a tip about an alleged armed group loading ammunition on a boat in Canhawan Guti, an island in Catbalogan.

De Leon then claimed the island was periodically used by the couple as their base. He added that the military was also following the movement of the couple prior to the alleged encounter. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.