PHILIPPINE National Police intelligence agents have joined hands with their Armed Forces counterparts in tracking down convicted rebel couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, PNP chief, General Debold M. Sinas announced yesterday.
According to the top cop, members of the PNP Intelligence Group headed by Colonel Warren F. de Leon and the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group headed by Major Gen. Joel Napoleon M. Coronel are involved in the hunt for the convicted couple.
“We received already the directive of the SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government) to initiate police actions and coordinate with our counterpart for the tracking of the Tiamzon couple,” Sinas told newsmen in Camp Crame.
“I have already directed our CIDG to get a copy of the conviction sa court para maging reference po namin and we have tasked our different intelligence units, lalo na sa IG, to coordinate with the AFP counterpart for the possible arrest,” he added.
Sinas said they are hoping that the Tiamzons would surrender and vowed that should they send surrender feelers, authorities would facilitate the couple’s surrender and transfer to the jail where they will be detained.
“We are hoping makipagugnayan sila sa amin kung gusto nilang sumuko. We are willing to facilitate their surrender and bring them to the appropriate court and jail to serve their sentence,” he said.
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 on Friday last week sentenced the couple to up to 40 years of imprisonment after finding them guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
The two were arrested in 2014 in Barangay Zaragoza in Aloguinsan, Cebu by security forces but were freed from detention in August 2016 to participate as consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Sinas also scoffed off claims by the CPP/NPA that an elderly couple-turned most wanted CPP/NPA personalities were summarily executed by police troops in Angono, Rizal last Wednesday.
The PNP chief said that old age won’t prevent anybody from putting up a fight especially when being cornered.
“We’re open to any investigation but the CIDG 4-A and the Rizal police served a search warrant and a warrant of arrest issued against the couple. When they resisted, a gunfight broke out,” he said.
“Me firearms na narecover sa kanila. Judgment call ng mga operatiba natin yun. Pero pag sinabi ng mga terorista na hindi sila nanlaban, sa kanila yun. We’re open to investigation. Just for the information of all, these are no ordinary couple, They are hardened terrorists,” he said.
Sinas said that the PNP Internal Affairs Service is already conducting a ‘motu-propio’ investigation into the incident.
Around 3:35 a.m. last Wednesday, the two were killed in a reported gunbattle with agents of the PNP-CIDG and the Rizal police.
PNP-CIDG director, Major Gen. Joel Napoleon M. Coronel identified the slain suspects as Agaton Topacio alias ‘Vic Ocampo Villoria’ and Eugenia Magpantay alias ‘Remilita Martinez Villoria’
According to Coronel, members of the CIDG Regional Field Unit 4-A, the Rizal Provincial Police Office and the Angono Municipal Police Station were about to serve four search warrants and two warrants of arrest issued against the two suspects inside their residence at no. 12 Kinglet Street in Meralco Village, Barangay Mahabang Parang in Angono when the couple resisted and exchanged fire with the officers.
Both died while being taken to the Rizal Provincial Hospital for treatment.
The PNP-CIDG said in a statement that the search warrants for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 and RA 9516 or illegal possession of explosives were issued by the Antipolo City Regional Trial Court while the warrants of arrest for attempted homicide and murder were issued respectively against Topacio and Magpantay by the Pantabangan Municipal Trial Court in Nueva Ecija and the Palayan City RTC Branch 40.
Recovered during the operation were a Colt M-16 automatic rifle with a magazine containing 12 live ammunition, an M-16 magazine with a magazine containing four bullets, a caliber .45 Rock Island pistol with a magazine, cal. .45 Federal pistol with a magazine containing seven live ammunition, two MK2 grenades, 18 assorted identification cards and assorted computer gadgets and accessories as well as assorted documents.
The recovered firearms were brought to the Rizal Provincial Crime Laboratory while the grenades were taken to the Rizal Explosives and Ordnance Disposal Team.
The couple were previously identified as top leaders of the CPP/NPA Central Luzon Regional Committee.
An investigation into the incident is still underway as of press time, said Rizal police director, Colonel Joseph Arguelles.