Benito Tiamzon, his wife Wilma and five other leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) walked out of the inquest proceedings held in Camp Crame in Quezon City on Monday, protesting that the judicial inquiry was not conducted in Cebu city where they were recently arrested.
Their lawyer, Rachel Pastores, said the prosecutor in Quezon City has no jurisdiction over the case, making the inquest illegal.
The Tiamzon couple, as well as Rex G. Villaflor, Nona C. Castillo, Joel E. Enano, Jeosi M. Nepa and Arlene J. Panea, were flown to Manila immediately after their arrest on Saturday. They are detained at the custodial center in Camp Crame “The proceeding is highly irregular and thus illegal.
We walked out because the state prosecutor here in Manila has no jurisdiction over the case,” Pastores said.
Government prosecutors continued with the inquest despite the walkout.
Before the legal proceedings, Benito shouted “Tuloy ang laban! (On with the struggle!)” His wife then said “happy anniversary.” The greeting was obviously for the NPA, which will mark its 45th anniversary on March 29.
Benito is the chairman of the CPP-NPA, and his wife, the secretary general.
The Tiamzons were arrested based on a warrant issued by a court in Hilongos, Leyte for multiple murder.
Pastores also question the plan of prosecutors to file charges of illegal possession of firearms against her clients.
The police claimed that four pistols, several rounds of ammunition, two hand grenades, four laptop computers, 16 cellular phones and 20 computer flash drives/USBs were seized from the couple when they were arrested.
But Pastores insisted that what was seized from the couple were their personal belongings, three puppies and four cats.
The lawyer said the Tiamzons’ arrest was illegal and a violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which grants them immunity from arrest.
Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, said Benito and Wilma were holders of NDFP documents of identification signed by Silvestre Bello 3rd, who was then chairman of the government negotiating panel.
He said Benito holds ID No. ND978227, while Wilma, whose maiden surname is Austria, holds ID No. ND978226.