2 NDF execs get life for kidnapping
The Armed Forces of the Philippines vowed to hunt down the couple, who have yet to surrender to authorities after peace talks between the government and the CPP collapsed, AFP spokesman Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.
The STAR/Boy Santos

2 NDF execs get life for kidnapping

Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - November 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Two top officials of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, were sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday for the 1988 kidnapping and serious illegal detention of four soldiers in Quezon province.

In a 19-page decision, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 Judge Alfonso Ruiz II found Benito and Wilma Tiamzon guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines vowed to hunt down the couple, who have yet to surrender to authorities after peace talks between the government and the CPP collapsed, AFP spokesman Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.

The couple was released in 2016 to act as consultants in the peace talks in Oslo, Norway initiated at the start of the Duterte administration but these talks have since bogged down.

Ruiz also ordered the couple to pay the complainant, Lt. Abraham Casis, a total of P225,000 in moral, civil and exemplary damages.

The case stemmed from the kidnapping of Casis and Lts. Clarito Santos, Oscar Singson and Rommel Salamanca by alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP’s armed wing, as they were on their way to Manila in June 1988. The soldiers were held captive for around 75 days.

Ruiz said Casis testified that during his captivity, he saw the Tiamzons “holding meetings” and issuing orders to NPA members.

“The testimony of the complainant was able to establish conspiracy among members of the core group that kidnapped and detained him,” the judge wrote.

Welcome ruling

Malacañang officials hailed the Tiamzons’ conviction.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said “those who seek to reform the social and political structure must do so in accordance with existing laws.”

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the ruling is a “triumph of the justice system.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said while he has yet to read the entire decision, “it’s a victory for the prosecution.”

Arevalo said the decision is a victory for the victims of “violence perpetrated by the CPP-NPA.”

The Tiamzons are also facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives as well as multiple counts of murder for the Inopacan, Leyte massacre, before different courts.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who played a key role in the Tiamzons’ arrest in 2014 when he was head of the Intelligence Services of the AFP (ISAFP), said he is happy with the conviction.

“I spent half of my career looking for this couple… I was the chief of ISAFP in 2014 when we arrested them in Cebu City,” he said.

Año said he has ordered the Philippine National Police to hunt down the couple. He added that they are monitoring information that the two have not left the country. – Christina Mendez, Robertzon Ramirez

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