By Francis T. Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Wednesday it is tracking down National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon in an effort to re-arrest the couple.
“We are continuously monitoring their location. I just cannot tell you the updates about it. But what we can tell you is that we are going to abide by the orders of the court to implement the arrest order once again issued by the regional trial court,” AFP spokesman Edgard Arevalo told a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Last January 11 the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 ordered the re-arrest of the Tiamzon couple.
Arevalo said the military does not regret the decision of the government to temporarily free the couple so they could participate in peace negotiations with communist organizations.
“Well, first of all we should give peace a chance. That was the chance seen by our government in order to achieve lasting peace. And if it would require some members of the NPA whom we were able to arrest as we have seen and observed that they were given temporary liberty on account of that particular grant of pass as a consultant, then we understand and we will support that. But since it came to pass that we have to re-arrest them, then we will obey and abide by the orders of the court,” he said.
Arevalo also said it will take a national approach to defeat the New People’s Army (NPA), the military arm of the National Democratic Front (NDF).
“As we have seen (in the past) there are efforts being done and we do not intend to do this all by the AFP. It has to be a whole-nation approach,” Arevalo said.
Judge Thelma Bunyi Medina ordered the arrest of the Tiamzon couple and their co-accused Adelberto Silva, who are facing murder charges in relation to the mass grave found in Leyte in 2006.
The three were granted provisional liberty so they could participate in the peace negotiations between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA).
Last November 23, President Duterte signed Proclamation 360 terminating the peace talks.
“In view of the termination of peace negotiations with the NDF-CPP-NPA, the accused, who are merely granted provisional liberty for purposes of their supposed participation in said peace talks, should be recommitted to the courts,” Medina said.