THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) believes that it has sufficient evidence against communist leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma who are facing charges of illegal possession of firearms following their arrest in Cebu on Saturday.
AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala on Tuesday said the firearms, rounds of ammunitions and hand grenades seized from Tiamzon’s group were properly documented.
Zagala dismissed the claim of the Tiamzons that what was recovered from them during their arrest were ”three puppies, four cats” and personal belongings.
“They were arrested while they were in their vehicles. And when they were arrested, the search of their vehicles were done in their presence and there were pictures and video of them and these are now part of the evidence against them,” Zagala said. “It’s but natural that they will say that but we prefer that they said that in court rather than to media.”
“Nothing was planted, there was regularity in action, investigative procedures were followed. Remember that it was a law enforcement operation, we were serving a warrant of arrest and in order for the charges to stick, procedures must be followed. The police were there, SOCO were there, the AFP was in support,” the official noted.
Zagala said expressed confidence that their evidence will stand in court.
As to the Tiamzons’ claim that their case should be tried in Cebu where they were captured, Zabala said it but proper to transfer the case to Manila for security reasons.
He admitted though that the five other persons arrested with the Tiamzon couple had no warrants of arrest.
However, they were taken in for being “accessories”.
He said the five serve as close-in security of the couple.
The Tiamzons, according to Zagala, each carry a P5.6 million reward on their heads.
Benito, 63, is the current chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.
Malacañang on Tuesday also rejected the couple’s claim that he firearms were “planted.”
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. challenged the arrested communist leaders to prove their allegations in court.
With Catherine S. Valente