Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Sunday said Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma are still in the country, urging them to surrender three days after a Quezon City court sentenced them to up to 40 years imprisonment for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
“Ang info wala sila sa ibang bansa. Namo-monitor naman natin kaya mabuti pa mag surrender na sila (Based on our information, they are not in other countries. We can monitor so it is better for them to surrender),” Año told the Philippine News Agency.
He has directed the Philippine National Police to intensify its manhunt against the Tiamzon couple following the Quezon City RTC’s verdict.
“May instruction na ko sa (I have instruction to) PNP arrest these people, let them serve their sentence,” he said.
He said the conviction of the couple is proof that “crime does not pay.
“Malaki kasi yung hirap ko diyan sa paghuli niyan (I exerted a lot of effort in capturing them). I was the chief of ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) when they were arrested in March 2014. I spent (almost) half of my career looking for this couple,” Año said.
After hiding for many years, the Tiamzon couple was arrested in Barangay Zaragoza, Cebu City in March 2014.
“This is a great victory because this couple owes so much blood to the Filipino people. They kidnapped and killed so many people and burned so many equipment,” Año said.
On Friday, Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 216 Judge Alfonzo Cruz II found the Tiamzon couple guilty of kidnapping and illegal detention of military personnel who were on furlough in 1988.
The two ranking Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) leaders were also ordered to pay the complainant, Lt. Abraham Claro Casis, a total of PHP225,000 in civil indemnity and damages.
On Aug. 15, 2016, the couple was granted bail to join the peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDF, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The couple remains at large since the same Quezon City court ordered their rearrest in 2018 after President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the peace talks with the NDF.
They are also facing multiple murder charges before the Manila RTC over the alleged 1985 purge in Leyte of communist rebels suspected of being military informants, known as the Inopacan massacre.
The complaint stemmed from the discovery of a mass grave in Leyte containing alleged victims of the purge. PNA.GOV.PH