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CPP: Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, 8 others tortured, killed by AFP

The Communist Party of the Philippines has confirmed the deaths of its leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon in August 2022.

In a statement, the CPP said the Tiamzons were arrested along with several other party members on August 21, 2022.

Marco Valbuena, chief information officer of the CPP, said the couple was unarmed when arrested in Catbalogan City, were tortured, and then killed.

"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," Valbuena said.

"Only eight bodies were subsequently retrieved by the military," he added.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on August 22, 2022, reported the explosion of a motorized boat during an encounter with government troops off Catbalogan City.

Joint Task Force Storm Commander Major General Edgardo De Leon said visual estimates using night vision goggles showed that there were no more than 10 people onboard.

GMA News Online has sought comment from the AFP as regards the CPP's announcement of the Tiamzons' deaths and their alleged torture.

"The entire leadership and membership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemn in the strongest terms the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the brutal torture and cowardly killing of Party leaders Benito Tiamzon (Ka Laan) and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon (Ka Bagong-tao), together with eight other revolutionaries after they were captured in Samar province on August 21, 2022," Valbuena said.

Benito, 71, was the chairman of the CPP Executive Committee, while Wilma, 70, was the CPP secretary general.

The others who were captured along with the CPP leaders were Joel Arceo, a subregional secretary in Eastern Visayas; Ka Yen, Ka Jaja, Ka Matt, Ka Ash, Ka Delfin, Ka Lupe, and Ka Butig, who all belonged to the guerrilla force of the central headquarters.

CPP now 'headless,' says Año

Meanwhile, the National Security Council (NSC) welcomed the CPP-NPA-NDF’s confirmation of the deaths of two of its leaders, saying they had already suspected that the Tiamzon couple were killed in a clash with government forces last year.

“Finally, the terrorists have been forced to admit what many of us have suspected many, many months ago,” NSC Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.

“With the death of CPP founder Jose Maria Sison and now the Tiamzon couple, the Communist Terrorist Group is now headless with no clear national leadership. They have lost both their guiding light in the person of Joma and their commander in the Tiamzons and are now groping in the dark with no direction nor future in sight,” he said.

Año also defended the AFP, as he dismissed the CPP-NPA-NDF’s allegations as a "fabricated story."

“They are now trapped in their own web of lies which deserves scant comment. Needless to say, there is no truth whatsoever in this clearly fabricated story and we stand by the official reports from the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.

Apart from the Tiamzon couple, Año said Philippine authorities had also arrested CPP-NPA-NDF leader Eric Jun Casilao in Langkawi, Malaysia, with the help of the Malaysian government.

“This string of defeats on the part of the terrorists prove that the Philippine government is on the right track, and we shall sustain all anti-terrorism efforts we started years back, focusing on our local peace initiatives and good governance espoused by NTF-ELCAC under the guidance of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” he said.

“We in the NTF-ELCAC are extending the hand of unity and peace to the remaining members of the CPP-NPA-NDF who were duped by Joma Sison and the Tiamzons into embracing this defunct and senseless cause. Now is the time for them to lay down their arms and rejoin mainstream society for the peace and development of the Filipino nation,” he added. —Joviland Rita and Sundy Locus/NB/VBL, GMA Integrated News