No guns found in Tiamzon ‘safe house’ in Cebu-A A +A
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
CEBU -- No guns, ammunitions or explosives were found by the police who searched a house rented by high-ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Sitio Boloc-Boloc, Barangay Sangat, San Fernando Tuesday afternoon.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Central Visayas searched the house allegedly rented by CPP-NPA Chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife, party secretary-general Wilma Austria-Tiamzon.
“It is obvious that they left the house in a hurry,” said Senior Superintendent Ritchie Posadas, CIDG chief.
Among the things the police discovered were USBs, WiFi sticks, cell phones, laptops, a desktop computer and books like two of JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of The Rings” trilogy: “The Return of the King” and “The Fellowship of the Ring.”
In a separate interview, Major General John Bonafos, head of the Central Command (Centcom) based in Cebu City, confirmed to Sun.Star Cebu that the house in Sangat was used as safe house by the CPP-NPA leaders.
“Doon talaga sila tumitira (They lived there),” he said in a phone interview.
Asked how the military and police located Tiamzon and Austria, Bonafos said he couldn’t disclose the details of the operation.
In San Fernando, Posadas said the CIDG coordinated with the town’s police station for the search, which was authorized by a search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Soliver Peras.
The warrant is for the possible violation of Presidential Decree 8294 as amended by Republic Act 10591 (illegal possession of firearms, ammunitions and explosives).
Judge Peras ordered the police to seize only guns and explosives.
Posadas said they applied for the warrant yesterday morning and the judge granted it past 3 p.m.
A joint military and police team has said that various guns, ammunition and two grenades were found in the two vehicles that the Tiamzons and five companions were riding, at the time of their arrest last Saturday afternoon.
The team led by Posadas arrived in the San Fernando compound past 5 p.m. with Sangat Barangay Captain Ramulfo Sasuman and tanods.
The owner of the house was not present during the search.
Sasuman said he did not know the Tiamzons and their companions and only heard of them after their arrest.
There is a road in Sitio Boloc-Boloc that connects to Barangay Can-asujan in Carcar City, which also has a road going to Aloguinsan. It was while in that town that the group was arrested.
The Tiamzons reportedly used a green Starex van and changed plate numbers frequently, a female barangay official said.
The CIDG plans to “invite” the house’s owner and caretaker for questioning.
Emmie (real name withheld), the caretaker, said she did not know the Tiamzons belonged to the CPP-NPA.
“Nakahibawo na lang mi sa balita na (We only heard about that from the news).” The police ended the search past 6 p.m.
Posadas said the tipster whose information led to the couple’s arrest will be given up to P5.6 million.
The arrest has triggered some movements of “maneuver units” in the Police Regional Office (PRO) Central Visayas that are tasked to monitor communist activities.
Chief Supt. Danilo Constantino, director of PRO 7, said the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) 7 and public safety companies will intensify their surveillance in mid-north and mid-south Cebu for the presence of the NPA, the armed component of CPP.
“So far, we haven’t received threats based on our monitoring, but we will not wait until they attack us,” Constantino told reporters.
Police officials of PRO 7 went to two bus terminals in Cebu City on Tuesday and distributed 1,700 foldable fans bearing the names of wanted criminals and alleged CPP-NPA personalities.
This is part of PRO 7’s public service that has been cited as among the region’s best practices during their presentation of the Performance Governance System in Camp Crame.
Constantino, during the interview, said the safe house in Barangay Sangat is the only one they know about, so far.
He has also directed the Regional Intelligence Division to conduct a background check on three people from Cebu, who were caught together with Tiamzon and Austria last Saturday in Barangay Zaragosa, Aloguinsan. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 26, 2014.