MANILA -- The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) branded as a lie the claim of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon spent P2,000 a month for the food of each of their pet dogs and cats.
In a statement posted on its website, the CPP alleged that the AFP, after failing to prove that the Tiamzons were living a lavish lifestyle, just "resorted to accusing them of spending large amounts of money for their pets."
Lt. Jim Aris Alagao, spokesman for the Armed Forces Central Command, had said the packs of dog and cat food that they found in the safehouse and van of the Tiamzon couple were believed to be worth P2,000 each.
Each pack can be consumed in a month by only one pet, he said.
The Tiamzons had 4 dogs and 3 cats. Thus, the couple could have spent about P14,000 a month for the food of their pets alone, Alagao said.
But, according to the CPP, there is no truth to the military's "exaggerated" report, saying dog and cat food cost only P500 to P700 per sack when bought in bulk.
"The Tiamzons were not living a lavish lifestyle. The AFP was utterly frustrated that they failed to show any shred of evidence from the house rented by Comrades Benito and Wilma to support their long-standing claims that the leaders of the CPP were leading a lavish lifestyle. They have long used this as a media spiel against the CPP leaders," it said.
It added that the Tiamzon couple "upheld the standards of simple living and arduous struggle," noting that their rented house only had work tables and chairs, wooden beds, a dining table, and a small television set.
The CPP said a report of the National Finance Committee shows that the Tiamzons and their staff were just spending around P50 to P55 per day for every individual. This is within the budget of around P60 which the CPP allows to be spent for the daily food allowance of its full-time members.
The communist group admitted that Wilma, despite her asthma, was "a cat lover who takes in pusakals (pusang kalye or common household cats) and feeds them leftovers."
However, it said the couple's pets were part of the finance projects and source of additional income of the Tiamzon staff.
"They were breeding dogs to help augment their budget and make them less reliant on the central fund. Breeding dogs and cats for sale is common among working-class and middle-class families seeking additional income," the CPP said.
The Tiamzons and 5 other communist rebels were arrested in Barangay Zaragosa, Aloguinsan town, Cebu last Saturday.
Benito is the chairman of the CPP while his wife Wilma is the group's secretary-general. The couple is facing charges for 15 counts of murder. -- With a report from The Philippine Star