More groups condemned the reported deaths of top Communist Party of the Philippines leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and the alleged manner in which they were killed by government soldiers.
Peasant groups Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Anakpawis Party said the brutal slay of the couple prove the government’s disinterest in solving the root causes of the armed conflict in the country.
Indigenous peoples’ organizations Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu), Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination (Sandugo), and BAI Indigenous Women’s Network (Bai) in a joint statement said there is no justification for the manner of their deaths as well as the apparent cover-up that followed.
UMA said if only the government put as much effort into solving peasant landlessness and widespread hunger as they did in the cover-up, they could have easily ended the civil war the Tiamzons led.
“But they’d rather spend time and resources committing such disturbing war crimes instead.” UMA spokesperson John Milton Lozande said.
Acting UMA chairperson and former Anakpawis Party Representative Ariel Casilao said,“Killing CPP leaders doesn’t make Marcos a strong leader. What it does is reveal how weak he is at addressing the problems that have made common Filipinos willing to take up arms.”
“The government can end this war with genuine social reforms if it wanted to. Question is, does it want to?” Casilao added.
Casilao said they recognize that the armed revolution waged by the likes of the Tiamzons is aligned with the demands of the toiling masses, foremost of which is “seizing control of land from imperialists, compradors, and the landlords they worked with, and handing it over to the peasantry.”
The indigenous peoples’ groups meanwhile recalled when the Tiamzons took time to visit and consult with the Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya and Lumad bakwit at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman shortly after their second release from prison in 2016 to participate in the peace negotiations.
“They listened to us and advocated for the concerns and aspirations of national minorities to the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). They sincerely sat at the negotiating table with the Duterte administration to work for peace and push for genuine development,” the groups said in their statement.
“For us national minorities, the Tiamzons and the organizations they represent, CPP-NPA-NDF, were never our enemy. It was not them (who) bombed our communities nor imposed destructive projects in our ancestral lands,” they said.
“They did not kill our leaders and chieftains who protect our lands and rights. They did not imprison or torture us for asserting our right to self-determination. The state and its Armed Forces are the ones that bring terror to our lands and lives,” the groups added.
Katribu, Sandugo and BAI said they call for the Tiamzons and their eight companions killed with them.
“They were revolutionaries, not terrorists. They did not deserve to be tortured and then mercilessly assassinated. If the worst criminals deserve humane treatment, all the more to well-meaning people like them pushing for peace, freedom, and development,” they said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)