PNP, AFP deny taking P1.5M from Tiamzon-A A +A
Thursday, April 10, 2014
THE police and the military dismissed as “baseless” and a “blatant lie” the allegation that they pocketed about P1.5 million in cash that CPP-NPA officials Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria had with them when arrested last March 22.
Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 Chief Ritchie Posadas said operatives who captured the two Communist Party of the Philippines-National People’s Army (CPP-NPA) officials recovered only P23,545.35 in cash and some items, like laptop.
These were covered by inventory receipts that were signed by Nona Castillo and Rex Villaflor, two of the five companions of Tiamzon and Wilma.
“Villaflor was very meticulous and checked all the stuff they had in the vehicle,” said Posadas.
Law enforcers intercepted in Barangay Zaragosa, Aloguinsan the two vehicles—a Hyundai Starex van and a Toyota Innova—that carried the CPP-NPA officials and five companions.
Posadas said law enforcers recovered P13,130 from the Toyota Innova and P10,415 from the Starex van. The inventory receipt for items found in the Innova was signed by Castillo. The one for the Starex was signed by Villaflor.
The Tiamzons’ legal counsel said the P1.5 million was for super typhoon Yolanda survivors.
But Lt. Jim Alagao, Central Command spokesperson, refuted this. He said there were no reports or sightings of CPP-NPA members helping typhoon survivors.
Major Gen. John Bonafos, head of the Central Command, said the allegation that some of the cash disappeared is an attempt to undermine the efforts of the military and the police. He said the Tiamzon couple is using the military as scapegoat having squandered the money of the CPP.
“It is ironic that they are mentioning this huge amount of money at their disposal while their fighters have a meager ‘SUPAMIL’ (support to families) of P800 to P1,500 per month,” Bonafos said in a statement “This is indeed an eye-opener for the NPA to lay down their arms and once again return to living normal lives.”
Alagao said the Tiamzons lived a lavish lifestyle in Cebu and could have spent the money. He added that the couple lived in a house they rented for P20,000 a month.
He said the couple also had cable television, air condition and high-end closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
He also questioned the timing of the allegation. He said the Tiamzons were more concerned about their pets and raised the issue of the money only now.
The two vehicles used by the Tiamzons and their companions were turned over by the CIDG National Capital Region to the CIDG 7 yesterday. The vehicles will be under the custody of the CIDG 7 while the case against Tiamzon and Austria is being heard in Manila.
Tiamzon, chairman of the CPP-NPA, and Austria, its secretary general, are facing multiple murder charges.
Posadas said the Tiamzons or their relatives—with authorization from the couple—can claim the items seized by law enforcers during the arrest.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 11, 2014.