The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to intensify the manhunt for former Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife, former CPP Secretary General Wilma Tiamzon, who based on intelligence reports are still in the country three days after a Quezon City court sentenced them to up to 40 years imprisonment for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
"I have instructed the PNP to intensify the manhunt for these Communist Terrorists so that they can serve the sentence imposed on them by the court," said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Ano in a statement.
"I exerted a lot of effort in capturing them in 2014. I was then chief of ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) when they were arrested in March 2014. I spent almost half of my career looking for this couple," Ano said.
After hiding for many years, the Tiamzon couple was arrested by government operatives in Barangay Zaragoza, Cebu City in March 2014.
"The decision of the Regional Trial Court is a great victory for the Filipino people because of their crimes against humanity. As top leaders of the Communist Party and its armed wing, New Peoples Army, they kidnapped, killed, and tortured so many people and burned so many equipment," Ano said.
In a 19-page decision on Friday, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 found Benito and Wilma Tiamzon guilty of the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of military personnel who were on a furlough in 1988. They were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or 20 to 40 years in prison and asked to pay a total of P225,000 in civil indemnity and damages.
Ano said the conviction of the Tiamzon couple is a "landmark victory" for the Filipino people who have been suffering and enduring the long and protracted war being waged by the CPP-NPA-NDF and their front organizations to overthrow the government and kill soldiers, police, and innocent civilians.
Some 40,000 police, soldiers and innocent civilians have died in the last 50 years as a result of the Communist insurgency.
"They cannot run and hide forever. Sooner or later, matitimbog din sila ulit at haharapin ang mga kasalanan nila sa ating bayan. I am confident that we will see them behind bars soon," he said.
The Tiamzon couple was granted bail on Aug. 15, 2016 to attend and participate in the formal peace negotiation in Oslo, Norway upon the request of the National Democratic Front. As a sign of good faith, the government released them from prison to serve as so-called "NDF Consultants."
Both have since failed to appear in court even after the peace negotiations collapsed, their bails canceled, and warrants for their arrest were issued on Aug. 29, 2018. They have since gone underground again.
The couple is also facing multiple murder charges over the Inopacan Massacre where a mass grave was unearthed by soldiers in 2006 where suspected military informants within the CTG were purged.
CPP founder Jose Maria 'Joma' Sison is also a co-accused in the case. (PIA NCR)