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Top red leaders fall

By Florante S. Solmerin and Francisco Tuyay

Benito Tiamzon, wife, five others nabbed in Cebu

SECURITY forces arrested ranking communist rebel leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon in Carcar City in Cebu, the military confirmed on Saturday.

The security forces, consisting of policemen and military intelligence agents, arrested the Tiamzon couple while they were traveling on board two vehicles with five unidentified companions around 3:15 p.m. at Barangay Aluginsan in Carcar.

Benito Tiamzon
(August 2009 file photo
issued by the AFP)
A text advisory from the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said the couple were arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 31 of Laoang, Northern Samar for murder and frustrated murder.

The arrested people were brought the military’s Central Command headquarters for processing and documentation, the advisory added.

Benito is believed to be incumbent chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army while Wilma is believed to be the second in command and head of the CPP’s National Finance Commission.

Alexander Padilla, the government’s chief negotiator in the peace talks with the CPP-NPA’s umbrella National Democratic Front, had claimed that the Tiamzons had effectively ousted Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison and were in control of the communist movement.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed that the Tiamzon couple were arrested in Carcar City, but declined to disclose other details.

Little is known of Tiamzon, except that he grew up in Marikina City and was once a scholar at the University of the Philippines.

Military sources said, in his youth, Tiamzon was a member of the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan.

He commuted between Manila and Catbalogan, Samar where he rose to become head of the CPP’s Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee.

Tiamzon rose in the communist ranks because he was credited for developing Samar island into an NPA stronghold.

The military also believes Tiamzon was involved in several power struggles within the communist movement and he was frequently allied with the camp opposing Sison.

Sison himself claimed in his autobiography that he and Tiamzon were members of the CPP’s Political Bureau, the party’s executive panel, in 1989.

The other members of the Politburo in 1989 were Tiamzon’s wife, Wilma nee Austria, Ricardo Reyes and Romulo Kintanar.

However, Sison and Tiamzon drifted apart in the succeeding years, when he  supported the moves within the rebel movement to participate in legislative elections, with Tiamzon choosing to maintain the armed struggle.

Military sources also said Sison and Tiamzon backed opposing camps in 2010 when Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo ran for a seat in the House and Tuazon “celebrated” Ocampo’s defeat because it was unpopular with those who espoused armed struggle.

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