Tiamzons react to Aquino’s ‘notorious’ tag

Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon attend today's hearing at the Manila Trial Court Branch 32. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat.com)
FILE PHOTO: Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon attend today’s hearing at the Manila Trial Court Branch 32. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat.com)

“We are ‘notorious’ only in the hearts of those who make the people suffer, but we are loved by the people.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Political detainees Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria reacted to President Aquino’s final State of the Nation Address on July 27, in which the latter described them as “notorious.”

“We are ‘notorious’ only in the hearts of those who make the people suffer, but we are loved by the people.”

In his SONA, Aquino included the Tiamzon couple and other arrested peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and slain New People’s Army leader Leoncio Pitao or “Kumander Parago,” as he enumerated the capture of suspected criminal gangs, the killing of suspected international terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman, and the “The Butcher,” retired Maj.Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr.

Aquino also mentioned NDFP consultant Ruben Saluta, and civilian Emmanuel Bacarra.

Tiamzon said in jest that they have no problem being associated with Kumander Parago. On a serious note, they said they had expected that their arrest would be mentioned in Aquino’s last SONA as an “accomplishment.”

The Tiamzon spouses were arrested by joint military and police forces on March 22, 2014 in Carcar, Cebu. The two are both holders of Documents of Identification and are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), one of the agreements signed between the NDFP and the Philippine government (GPH).

NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni had decried their arrest as a “flagrant violation of Jasig,” which would have “prejudices” to the group’s peace negotiations with the GPH.

Asked on what the real SONA is, Tiamzon said, “majority of Filipinos are living in poor conditions brought about by US dictates.”

Meanwhile, the pre-trial conference before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 was suspended on July 30 and moved to Sept. 3. The couple, along with fellow NDFP peace consultants, farmers and activists, are facing murder charges in relation to the purported Leyte mass grave.

The court also issued a warrant of arrest against one of the accused and NDFP peace consultant Rafael Baylosis for failing to attend two consecutive hearings. Baylosis was not feeling well last hearing and, could not make it to the July 30 hearing as he was coming from the province, according to his lawyer Ameh Sato.

Baylosis, along with newly-arrested NDFP consultant Adelberto Silva and former Jagna town mayor Exuperio Llorin, are set to be arraigned on Aug. 27. ()

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