MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – Two people who provided crucial information that led to the arrest of alleged Communist Party (CPP) of the Philippines chairman Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma Austria will get a total of P20 million, the military said.
The proposal to increase it from the original P11.2 million ($250,000) was approved, according to Major General Eduardo Año, chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
Editor's Note: The official shown in this video from 0:22-0:29 is AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, not General Eduardo Año. We apologize for the error.
"The reward is P5.6 million for each of them (Benito and Wilma). But there is a recommendation to increase the reward to P10 million each," Año told Rappler in text message on Tuesday.
"There are 2 informants," he added.
Joint operatives of the military and police arrested the Tiamzon couple and 5 others in Cebu on Saturday, March 22.
"We have Joint Circular Number 2006-1 with the Philippine National Police for payment of reward for arrested or neutralized wanted CPP/NPA personalities," military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said. "We still have to wait until the board meets, but most definitely there will be a reward given to the informant," he added. The board is co-chaired by Armed Forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista and Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima.
The military claimed Tiamzon is the "center of gravity of the CPP-NPA-NDF here in the Philippines as the acting chairman in lieu of Jose Maria Sison who is in Utrecht as Chairman Emeritus." The military holds Tiamzon responsible for "the landmining, the killings, and the violence of the NPA." (READ: Benito Tiamzon: writer, organizer, party man)
It was not easy to locate and identify the Tiamzon couple, Zagala said.
"To locate Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria is already a challenge, and we were able to do that. The second [challenge] is identifying them," Zagala added. Before their arrest, the AFP's latest photo on Benito Tiamzon was taken in the 90s.
Zagala also disputed allegations that the firearms confiscated from the Tiamzon couple were planted.
"Nothing was planted," he said. "When they were arrested, the search of their vehicles was done in their presence, and there are pictures and a video of them. These are now part of the evidence against them. It's but natural that they will say that, but we prefer that they say that in court rather than to media," Zagala said.
The CPP continues to demand the immediate and unconditional release of the couple. They are supposed to be protected under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) because they are consultants of the NDFP, the political wing that is negotiating a peace deal with the government. (READ: Jasig has become a bounty list)
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Peace Process maintained that the verification process for "underground" personalities failed in 2012. It means only members of the NDFP are protected under the Jasig. – Rappler.com