CPP reports capture, torture and murder of Tiamzons by the military

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today confirmed Benito Tiamzon, chairman of its executive committee, and his wife, Wilma Austria Tiamzon, its secretary general, are dead.

Contrary to stories told by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) however that the top Communist leaders were killed when their boat was blown up by government troopers in the sea off Samar province, the CPP said the two and companions were captured near Catbalogan City last August 21.

They were then heavily tortured and killed, CPP spokesperson Marco Valbuena in a statement said.

“The entire leadership and membership of the (CPP) condemn in the strongest terms the (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’s statement said.

Benito was 71 while Wilma was 70, the CPP said.

The group said the two were travelling with Ka Divino (Joel Arceo), a subregional secretary in Eastern Visayas, along with Ka Yen, Ka Jaja, Ka Matt, Ka Ash, Ka Delfin, Ka Lupe, Ka Butig who all belonged to the guerrilla force of the central headquarters.

In a report, the CPP’s political bureau said the Tiamzons were traveling on two separate vans along the national highway eastwards towards Catbalogan City. They were flagged down between 12:00 noon and 1:00 in the afternoon, after which all communications with the group were lost.

They were unarmed, the group said.

Valbuena said it took them took several weeks to investigate reports the AFP released last year about the Tiamzon’s death off the western coast of Samar island. He said it also took them months to piece together the details of the capture and subsequent massacre of the Tiamzons and companions.

The AFP said the Tiamzons were killed when their boat exploded while engaging in a firefight with the military’s Joint Task Force Storm, the 8th Infantry Division and the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trident in the early morning hours of August 22, 2022 off the coast of Catbalogan.

The Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trident is a unit trained and commanded by the US (United States of America) military, the CPP said.

“The claimed mid-sea firefight and explosion were all a drama hatched by the AFP and its US military advisers, to hide all evidence of the ignominy of their fascist crime. In truth, 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. Only eight bodies were subsequently retrieved by the military,” Valbuena said.

‘Heavily tortured’

According to the information gathered by the CPP Central Committee, the Tiamzons were in fact captured and suffered severe beating in the hands of their captors, citing witnesses who saw how the faces and bodies of the victims were smashed with hard objects.

“The murder of the Tiamzons follow the pattern of the wilful killings perpetrated by the AFP against captured revolutionaries. The same cruel and cowardly methods were used in the killing of Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris), Menandro Villanueva (Ka Bok), Antonio Cabantan (Ka Manlimbasog), Julius Giron (Ka Nars) and a number of others,” Valbuena said.

Valbuena added that the CPP demands justice for the August 21 massacre of the Tiamzons and companions, naming top AFP generals and commander in chief President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as among those responsible.

The Tiamzons were last seen publicly when they participated in several formal peace negotiations in Norway, Italy and the Netherlands in 2016 and 2017 with the Rodrigo Duterte administration of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

They also attended several peace forums in the Philippines before again going underground when the talks collapsed due to orders from Duterte and the military.

Benito and Wilma were top graduates of Rizal High School in Pasig City before becoming a couple while they were University of the Philippines students.

They were already members of several revolutionary organizations when they went underground after President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. declared martial law in 1972.

Along with Giron, the Tiamzons were the highest-ranking CPP leaders who were allegedly killed by the AFP. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)