TACLOBAN CITY – The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) confirmed that high-ranking New People’s Army (NPA) leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon were killed in the August 22, 2022 clash with the military in Samar.

NICA regional director Eustacio Bacabac said that based on intelligence reports and statements from former comrades, the Tiamzon couple were indeed among the passengers of the motorboat that exploded in an encounter with Joint Task Force (JTF) Storm at around 4:20 in the morning on that day.

“This is already positive,” Bacabac said in a media briefing on Wednesday at Hotel De Fides here, adding, “There is already a confirmation from the security sector.”

He said such confirmation has already been forwarded to the military in an internal communication.

“What we are awaiting is a confirmation from the (communist movement). Normally kapag may namamatay sa kanila ay binibigyan nila ng pagpupugay, sa publications nila, which until now is wala pa,” he added.

He said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) may be reluctant to admit the death of the two leaders because of the impact that the admission will create to the who movement.

“Alam nila ang implications kapag wala na ang dalawa,” he said. Bacabac said the death of the Tiamzon couple and the recent death of CPP founder Jose Maria Sison left a huge vacuum in the CPP leadership. Benito Tiamzon is believed to be the chairman of CPP.

But the 8th Infantry Division, which led the military operation, said it has not yet received a formal report confirming the death of the Tiamzon couple.

“But since there is already a confirmation from the NICA then we will just subscribe to that result,” says Col. Erwin Rommel Lamzon, assistant commander of the 8th ID.

“The official report rendered by (former 8th ID Commander) Maj. Gen Edgardo De Leon says there was a legitimate operation and that the DNA testing will be carried out by the PNP kasi sila lang ang may capability,” Lamzon said. At least six bodies of suspected members of NPA were found in various state of decomposition in the waters of Samar in the days following the encounter. A report from the military says the boat carrying the communist rebels burst into flames when the explosives they were trying to transport were hit during the clash. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail Dec. 26, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023 issue)