Sunday, April 6, 2014

NPA ‘insider’ stands to get P5.6M bounty for Tiamzon

Benito-Tiamzon-and-wife-WilmaA New People’s Army rebel stands to receive P5.6 million as reward for information the rebel gave which led to the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines chairman Benito Tiamzon last Saturday in Cebu last Saturday.
“The informant is from their own organization. The information given helped us a lot,” said an official from the intelligence community.
The NPA is the CPP’s armed wing.
Tiamzon was arrested with his wife, CPP secretary general Wilma Austria, and five others believed to be their staff members. There is no known bounty offer for Austria’s arrest.
The source said it might take a while before the reward is given to the informant pending validation.
The official said the validating body, which is composed of police and military officers, will determine if the informant was indeed responsible for reporting the whereabouts of the highest communist leader in the country.
The source declined to say if the informant is a male or a female, also citing security reasons, but said, “Definitely, the informant is from the inside (of the communist movement).”
The source said the intelligence community got information from civilians. “But the one that may qualify (to receive the reward) is the informant from the inside,” he said.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs office, belied claims by the lawyer of Tiamzon and Austria that the evidence seized from the suspects was planted by government troops. The arresting team was led by military intelligence personnel.
The arresting personnel served arrest warrants for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder. They seized from the Tiamzon group several handguns, assorted ammunition, and hand grenades.
Zagala said the vehicles of the suspects were searched by the arresting team in the presence of Tiamzon and his companions themselves. He said the search was even videotaped and photographed by the arresting officers.
The PNP said it would impose very tight screening measures for persons who want to visit Tiamzon and his companions who are detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, chief of the PNP public information office, also said only the next of kin can visit the detainees.
He said the visiting hours for immediate family members will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays to Saturdays. Other visitors must submit a written request 10 days before the date of visit, subject to the approval of PNP chief Alan Purisima.
“Their lawyers can visit them anytime of the day,” Sindac said.
Rep. Silvestre Bello of 1-BAP party-list, a former chairman of the government panel in peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-CPP-NPA, said Tiamzon and Austria should be released only if they can present a document of identification or a safe conduct pass.
“It depends,” he said. “If they can present it, then they are covered by the JASIG.”
He was referring to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees under which consultants NDFP panel members, its consultant and committee members are immune from arrest.
The NDFP and the CPP are saying Tiamzon and Austria are consultants in the now stalled peace talks and therefore should not have been arrested as they are covered by the JASIG.
Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of the Left-leaning Bayan Muna party-list group filed House Resolution 991, urging the House of Representatives to direct the committee on human rights to investigate the arrest “and the series of violations of the JASIG.”
“Peace and human rights advocates are asking Congress to look into the correctness of the Aquino administration’s virtual scuttling of the peace negotiations with the NDFP and concluding peace talks with the MILF which may be considered as a form of divide-and-rule tactic, as well as a pacification tactic instead of addressing the root causes of armed conflicts and pursuing just and lasting peace,” the resolution said.
Former rebel soldiers-turned-lawmakers said the Left has no right to demand the liberty of its two leaders as a bargaining chip for the resumption of the peace talks.
“Napaka-convenient na palusot para sabihin ng CPP/NPA/NDF na nanganganib na ang peace talks dahil sa pagka-aresto ng mag-asawang Tiamzon. Huwag nating kakalimutan na kusang bumitaw sa usapang pangkapayapaan ang kaliwa noong naging Pangulo si PNoy,” said Magdalo party-list Rep. Ashley Acedillo.
Rep. Gary Alejano said people should remember that it was the CPP-NPA-NDFP that unilaterally withdrew from the peace table.
“There is no peace talk to claim in the first place. The government must be careful this time in releasing their leaders as a prerequisite to opening talks,” he said. – With Raymond Africa, Jocelyn Montemayor, and Wendell Vigilia

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