The Philippine government on Saturday announced the capture of alleged chairman of Communist Party of Philippines (CPP), his wife and five others in the central Philippine island of Cebu.

Nabbed were Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma Austria while on board a two-vehicle convoy Saturday afternoon in Alouguinsan, Cebu. 

Their five other companions were not identified.

Tiamzon is reportedly the CPP chairman while wife Wilma heads the CPP Finance Commission.  

A former government scholar at the University of the Philippines, Tiamzon, then in his 30s, became the CPP’s top man following the capture of Rodolfo ‘Bilog’ Salas in 1986.

He is said to have engineered the rise of Samar as the top guerrilla front of the CPP and its military wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) in the mid-80s.

Tiamzon was a top subject of military and police intelligence operatives until his capture.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the capture of Tiamzon was a Philippine Army project.

The Philippine Army is now headed by Gazmin’s protégé Maj. Gen. Hernando Iriberi.

Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator of the communist-led National Democratic Front, has demanded the immediate release of Tiamzon and his wife who he claimed are covered by safety and immunity guarantee signed between the rebel group and the Philippine government as part of the agreed documents during their on and off peace negotiations.

Tiamzon arrest came amid strong criticisms over the failure of the Philippine government to capture high-profile personalities charged with various crimes before the Philippine courts, among them retired Brig. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who is accused of masterminding the abduction and disappearance of  two UP student activists, and Palawan brother-politicians Joel and Mario Reyes who are accused of masterminding the murder of radio broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

It also came just a few days after President Benigno Aquino III announced they are poised to arrest one of the top high-profile fugitives in the country.

The arrest of Tiamzon is expected to create a leadership vacuum in the highly secretive and compartmentalized CPP leadership.

The Maoist-inspired CPP armed resistance is the longest running communist insurgency in Asia.

Its military wing, the NPA, will celebrate its 45th Anniversary on March 29.