Communist Party of the Philippines
Over the past few days, the spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been doing the rounds of the media, spending most of the day in radio and media interviews, to justify their arrest and continued incarceration of comrades Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and senior leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The AFP has resorted to dishing out one concocted story after another against the Tiamzons and against the revolutionary movement.
In the spirit of fair-reporting, we hope that the big media organizations will give space to the views of the CPP and report on the other side of the truth.
- The arrest of Comrades Benito and Wilma are in gross violations of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). Wilma Tiamzon is clearly among the list of NDFP peace consultants, as she has been listed under her true name, i.e. she is not listed under an assumed name, with Document of Identification No. ND978226. Comrade Wilma’s case can not be covered by the tactic used by the Aquino government over the past months blocking the release of NDFP consultants because their aliases can not be verified.
The NDFP asserts that Comrade Benito is among the listed consultants of the NDFP under the assumed name Crising Banaag with Document of Identification No. ND978227.
Contrary to Aquino’s Justice Sec. Leila de Lima’s opinion, the criminal justice system of the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) is not above the JASIG nor the other agreements forged between the GPH and the NDFP. All the agreements between the GPH and the NDFP are of the nature of international treaties, to which national laws are subsumed.
This is explicitly stated in the JASIG where the signing parties agree to subsume their police and court processes to the higher goal of peace negotiations. Part II, Section 2 stipulates: “the prosecutors shall move for the suspension, during the peace negotiations, of criminal proceedings or processes including arrest and search, for acts allegedly committed prior to the effectivity of this Joint Agreement.”
Thus, Comrade Wilma’s jumping bail cannot be used against her protected status under JASIG. In fact, the Ramos regime, then, recognized Comrade Wilma’s status as NDFP consultant, knowing full well that she had standing cases in the courts of the GPH.
Failing to disprove Comrade Wilma’s status as NDFP consultant, Aquino’s officials has resorted to coming up with another excuse claiming that the JASIG cannot be in effect because the talks are suspended. This is easily refuted by taking a look at the agreement itself which states that the JASIG can only be terminated with a written notice and only 30 days after receipt of such notice.
- Contrary to the fascist intrigues of the AFP, there is no rift between Comrades Benito and Wilma or the Philippine-based leadership of the CPP and the senior members of the CPP in The Netherlands. The NDFP Negotiating Panel and Comrade Joma were among the first to condemn the arrest of Comrades Benito and Wilma.They are among the comrades who are vigorously fighting for the release of Comrades Benito and Wilma, as well as all NDFP consultants and the 400 plus political prisoners.
Comrades Benito and Wilma, and the entire central leadership of the CPP, continue to support the work of the NDFP negotiating panel. The Philippine-based leadership has retained the offices of the NDFP negotiating panel with hopes that peace negotiations with the GPH, however tenuous and difficult, will continue to proceed. Comrades Benito and Wilma and the CPP have long wanted peace negotiations with the objective of addressing the people’s myriad problems of landlessness, unemployment, low wages, skyrocketting costs of living, human rights violations and military abuses, lack of government infrastructure to address natural calamities, and other outstanding socio-economic problems which continue to fuel the armed revolution.
At the same time, the CPP leadership continue to firmly grasp the principle that without arms, the people have nothing. Negotiations under the Ramos and Estrada governments have proved that substantial agreements can be forged despite (or perhaps because) of the raging civil war. Aside from the historic Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed under Estrada, and the JASIG signed by Ramos, there are no less than 10 significant agreements signed from 1992 to 1998. Such a principle was cast away by the Arroyo regime during which time peace negotiations lost significance as a forum to address the outstanding issues at the roots of the armed conflict; and became a tool for deception in the vain hope of inveigling the NDFP and the New People’s Army to surrender.
Aquino, despite all his peace rhetoric, has adopted the anti-peace negotiations stance of the Arroyo regime.
- The Tiamzons were arrested on the basis of trumped up charges. Contrary to reports in the media that they were being arrested for murder charges filed in Northern Samar, the warrants of arrest presented to Comrades Benito and Wilma was for the charges of murder for the so-called Hilongos “mass graves”, which have been the same case filed against at least 50 other activists, including former congressman Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna. The Hilongos “mass graves” is a legal concoction of the AFP started under the Arroyo regime’s so-called Inter-Agency Legal Advisory Group (IALAG) headed by then Justice Sec. Raul Gonzales, one of the most rabid of Arroyo’s officials.
Fearing that the Hilongos case will not stand against the Tiamzons, they also filed a case of illegal possession of firearms despite the fact that the Tiamzons had no firearms when accosted. The Tiamzons and their five staff members where unarmed when arrested. Even the initial report of the Carcar police, which effected their arrest, did not mention that they were carrying firearms (something which the AFP spokesman insists on forgetting). This is consistent with the practice of key officials and cadres of the CPP to not carry firearms when travelling outside the war zones as this makes them prone to random checks and arrests by the reactionary police and military forces.
The CPP condemns the Aquino regime and the AFP for filing one criminal case after another against the leaders and members of the CPP in order to justify their arrests and prolonged detention. Such a practice is in violation of the Hernandez Doctrine, a principle upheld even by the GPH Supreme Court which stipulate that filing criminal charges for offenses committed in the course of one’s political belief is a violation of human rights.
- The arrest of the Tiamzons will not stop the advance of the revolution. The displacement will be temporary and short-lived. The responsibilities that were being shouldered by Comrades Benito and Wilma have been automatically transferred to other officials of the CPP Central Committee.
As succinctly pointed out by Comrade Joma, the CPP has a “deep bench”. The CPP has 15 regional committees, scores of subregional committees, more than a hundred front committees and tens of thousands of Party branches and sections in the New People’s Army and organs of political power that daily lead the work of the CPP and carry forward the people’s war.
Add to that is the fact that the CPP’s leadership and membership is ever expanding with young blood as it continues to draw from among the ranks of the Filipino youth whose future can only be secured by waging a revolution to put an end to the oppressive and exploitative ruling system.
- The Tiamzons were not living a lavish lifestyle. The AFP was utterly frustrated that they failed to show any shred of evidence from the house rented by Comrades Benito and Wilma to support their long-standing claims that the leaders of the CPP were leading a lavish lifestyle. They have long used this as a media spiel against the CPP leaders. As shown in the footages taken by news reports, the Tiamzon’s rented house only had work tables and chairs, wooden beds, a dining table, a small television set and nothing much more.They upheld the standards of simple living and arduous struggle.
A look into the report of the National Finance Committee will indicate that the Tiamzons and their staff were spending around PhP 50-55 (US$ 1.12 – 1.23) per day for every individual. This is within the budget of around PhP 60.00 (US$ 1.34) which the CPP allows to be spent for the daily food allowance of its full-time members.
Having failed to prove that the Tiamzons were living lavishly or spending money for themselves, the AFP resorted to accusing them of spending large amounts of money for their pets. Indeed, despite her asthma, Comrade Wilma is a cat lover who takes in pusakals (pusang kalye or common household cats) and feeds them leftovers.
The pet dogs, however, were part of the finance projects and source of additional income of the Tiamzon staff. They were breeding dogs to help augment their budget and make them less reliant on the central fund. Breeding dogs and cats for sale is common among working-class and middle-class families seeking additional income. Dog and cat food, when bought in bulk, can be bought for around PhP 500-700 (US$ 11.17 – 15.64) per sack from among breeders (contrary to the exaggerated claims by the AFP that each sack costs PhP 2,000 (US$ 44.67)).