The Communist Party of the Philippines vowed to attain justice for Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria and their companions it said were massacred in Catbalogan, Samar a year ago today, August 21.
In a statement, CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena reiterated their belief that the couple and their eight comrades were arrested by troops belonging to the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine army and subsequently tortured and executed.
“The revolutionary forces reiterate their vow to attain justice for the Tiamzons and all other victims of state terrorism,” Valbuena said.
The CPP officer added the murder of Tiamzon, Austria as well as their companions he identified as Ka (comrade) Divino, Ka Yen, Ka Jaja, Ka Matt, Ka Ash, Ka Delfin, Ka Lupe and Ka Butig “are dastardly fascist-terrorist crimes of the Marcos regime, perpetrated under the direction of their US military advisers.”
In a report eight months after the incident last April, the CPP’s Political Bureau said the Tiamzons were traveling on two separate vans along the national highway eastwards towards Catbalogan City.
The group, later dubbed as the Catbalogan 10, was flagged down between 12:00 noon and 1:00 in the afternoon, after which all communications with the group were lost, the CPP said.
The group was unarmed, it added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) meanwhile said the victims were killed in a legitimate encounter off the coast of Catbalogan when their motorized boat exploded following a firefight with their soldiers.
“We have long suspected the deaths of CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma during an armed encounter with government troops on Aug. 22, 2022 in the seas off Catbalogan City, Samar, but we did not have the evidence to confirm it,” then AFP spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar said.
The AFP added that only body parts were what remained of those killed, preventing their immediate identification.
The military had long suspected that Tiamzon was CPP chairman while Austria was secretary general
Valbuena said that the couple long served as among key CPP leaders who selflessly dedicated their lives to the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation and the socialist aspirations of the working class.
Tiamzon and Wilma were last seen publicly as consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in peace negotiations with the Rodrigo Duterte administration of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines in 2016 and 2017.
“[T]he martyrdom of the Tiamzons will forever be remembered and inspire the younger generation of workers, peasants and all democratic classes to carry forward the Filipino people’s national democratic struggle,” Valbuena said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)