“Don’t use my daughter’s corpse as a trophy.”
Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Eufemia Cullamat directed these words to the military in a statement on Sunday night even as she admitted that her daughter Jevilyn had indeed joined the “armed struggle.”
“Bilang isang ina, basag ang puso ko ngayon sa balitang nasawi ang anak kong si Jevilyn sa isang insidente sa Marihatag, Surigao del Sur. Matindi ang aking pagdadalamhati sa pagkapaslang ng aking bunsong anak (As a mother, I am heartbroken over the news that my daughter Jevilyn has been killed in the Marihatag, Surigao del Sur incident. The grief I feel over the loss of my youngest child is great),” the Makabayan bloc solon said.
“Mariin kong kinokondena ang ginawang pambabastos at pambababoy sa labi ng aking anak. Hindi siya bagay, hindi siya isang tropeo na ipaparada para lamang sa propaganda ng militar. Hindi niyo na ginalang ang patay, binabastos pa ninyo ang nagluluksa naming pamilya. (I strongly condemn the desecration done to my child’s remains. She is not an object, she is not a trophy that you should parade for military propaganda. You dare disrespect the dead while her family grieves),” Cullamat said.
The lady solon, a neophyte in the current 18th Congress, was alluding to pictures of a lifeless Jevilyn circulating online. The teenager–bloodied on the ground–is seen clutching a rifle as if she was still alive.
“Hinihiling ko sa militar na huwag gamiting tropeo ang bangkay ng aking anak. Hayaan ninyo ang aming pamilya na makapagluksa at makapagbigay ng parangal sa kabayanihan niya. (I ask the military not to use my child’s corpse as a trophy. Let our family grieve and honor her for her heroism),” she further said.
In an earlier statement Sunday, Cullamat said in Filipino that she “wasn’t surprised if my daughter did join the NPA out of the persisting abuse and cruelty that us natives have been experiencing at the hands of the AFP and their paramilitary groups.” This statement was rescinded just minutes after it was released to House reporters.
The NPA or New People’s Army is the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which the Philippine government has tagged as terrorists. Bayan Muna and the rest of the Makabayan bloc has consistently distanced themselves from the CPP.
Cullamat addresses her daughter’s affiliation in her second statement, although this time she doesn’t mention any rebel group.
“Ang desisyon niyang lumahok sa armadong pakikibaka ay hindi simpleng bagay, at bunga na rin ng pang-aabusong dinanas naming mga Lumad at ang matinding kahirapan na nasaksihan niya. (Her decision to join the armed conflict is not a simple matter, it was triggered by the abuses that us Lumads have experienced and the poverty she witnessed),” she said.
Cullamat said her daughter personally witnessed the killing of their local leaders Dionel Campos, Datu Bello Sinzo, and ALCADEV Executive Director Emerito Samarca on September 1, 2015. She said the perpetrators were paramilitary members.
In a rather defiant tone, Cullamat said that she respected her daughter’s decision, further calling Jevilyn a “martyr” and a “warrior.”
“Hindi nasayang ang kanyang buhay na inalay niya para sa bayan at para sa pagdepensa ng aming lupang ninuno. Malaking karangalan sa akin na nagkaroon ng isang anak na naging martir at mandirigma. (The life that she sacrificed for the country and in defense of our ancestral lands did not go to waste. It’s a great honor for me to have had a child who became a martyr and a warrior).
“Walang pag-alinlangan kong sasabihin ito: Ipinagmamalaki ko si Jevilyn dahil lumaban siya sa isang sistemang mapang-api lalo na sa aming mga Lumad. (I say this without a tinge of doubt: I am proud of Jevilyn for fighting an oppressive system especially against us Lumads),” she said.