24 April 2023
Migrante-International, the biggest organization of migrant Filipinos around the world, vehemently condemns the abduction, torture and inhumane treatment, massacre, and desecration of the remains of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines or NDFP, and eight of their companions in August 2022.
When this crime happened, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC, especially its erstwhile spokesperson Lorraine Badoy, immediately celebrated the Tiamzons’ death through its Facebook Pages, claiming that the couple and their companions “fought back” and deserved to be killed. It later on deleted the posts, obviously afraid that it will be caught red-handed in violating International Humanitarian Law. We therefore blame no less than the Bongbong Marcos regime for this crime.
We demand an investigation into this massacre and the punishment of the leaders of the military unit responsible for this crime. This is not the first time that a massacre like this has been perpetrated by the military, but this is an extreme and high-profile case that must not be ignored and can be a starting point for exacting accountability. The military should confront Asia’s longest-running armed insurgency with respect for International Humanitarian Law. Its longstanding impunity is proof that the justice system is not working.
One does not need to endorse the armed struggle championed by the Tiamzons to see that their analysis of the problems of the Philippines is progressive, coherent and deserving of respect. One does not need to be an expert on terrorism to see that they are revolutionaries, not terrorists, and they in fact oppose targeting civilians in achieving political effects. They share many of the nationalist and progressive ideas that they espouse with Senator Claro M. Recto, for example, or historian Teodoro Agoncillo. They have human rights, and do not deserve the crimes committed against them.
Migrante-International believes that the root causes of forced migration, as well as the armed conflict, should be addressed. We believe that the government should create decent jobs in the Philippines by developing agriculture and industries. These are conversations that the Tiamzons, through the NDFP’s peace talks with the government among other avenues, want the nation to have. These proposals are essential components of the NDFP’s draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms or CASER for the peace talks, the crafting of which the Tiamzons played an important part in. When they were imprisoned in 2014-2016 and shortly after they were freed, they selflessly shared their views on migrant issues and movement-building with members and leaders of Migrante-International.
“How long shall they kill our prophets,” asked Bob Marley in a song, “while we stand aside and look?” Prophets are those who warn peoples of destruction if they persist in their present ways. We are not standing aside and merely looking. The Tiamzons have important messages for the Filipino migrants and people, which will persist and live on until they are given a hearing and heeded. Those who killed them have done the country a disservice. Justice!###