An interesting backgrounder from the Inquirer on Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma might explain why Communist Party of the Philippines founder, Jose Maria Sison, was seen popping a bottle of Dom Perignon.
- MANILA, Philippines—Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma Austria, both members of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) Central Committee, were the ones “in charge,” according to government intelligence sources before their arrests on Saturday.
Reports as of November 2012 described Tiamzon as the “top New People’s Army (NPA) leader” while Wilma was described as “head of the CPP National Finance Commission.”
In March 2002, a faction led by Tiamzon opposed peace talks with the government. Then Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jose Mabanta said Tiamzon had questioned some political decisions that the Central Committee had taken, particularly on efforts to open peace talks with the Arroyo administration.
Tiamzon was reportedly concerned “that this compromise could defeat the teachings that the party has propagated through the years and destroy the legitimacy of armed struggle if some members of the party will subscribe to the hope for change apart from revolution.”
According to the military, Tiamzon also questioned exiled CPP founder Jose Maria Sison’s decision to raise the number of Central Committee members from 15 to 30, a move that could tilt power in the party in Sison’s favor.
Sison’s faction, which has been holding talks with the government, questioned the reportedly luxurious lifestyle of Tiamzon and his wife and had assigned a party man to audit the NPA’s finances, according to the military.
Tiamzon, along with fellow communist guerrilla leader Jorge Madlos, has a standing arrest warrant for alleged involvement in violent incidents, including attacks on civilian targets.
In August 2012, President Aquino reiterated that the P5.6-million bounty for the capture of Tiamzon still stood.
A 2007 release by the Philippine Information Agency described Tiamzon as a sociology graduate from the University of the Philippines.
Austria was first arrested on Oct. 4, 1989, in San Juan City. But she escaped from prison on Christmas Day of the same year by losing herself in a crowd of visitors leaving Camp Crame in Quezon City.
She was arrested again on May 4, 1994, in Malolos, Bulacan. Twelve days later, then President Fidel Ramos ordered the release of Wilma “in a gesture of peace and national reconciliation.”
Ramos gave the directive after a surprise visit to the Philippine Heart Center where Wilma was confined for hypertension and asthma.
A December 1989 Inquirer report said Wilma hailed from San Pedro, Laguna, and was a BS Statistics student at UP when she joined the underground movement, according to a military dossier.—Inquirer Research