Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite on Monday hit back at Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for saying that they already have the basis for linking the Makabayan bloc to the New People’s Army (NPA) following the death of Rep. Eufemia Cullamat’s daughter in an encounter last weekend.
Gaite said the Jevilyn Cullamat may have decided to join the armed communist group but this should not be used to support the security sector’s allegations against progressive lawmakers in the House of Representatives.
“Jevilyn Cullamat chose a different path of struggle. She chose differently from her mother, Rep. Eufemia Cullamat. But Jevilyn’s choice is as legitimate as any Lumad like her,” the congressman said in a statement.
“After seeing the horrors of military abuse in the countryside such as the killings of ALCADEV and MAPASU members Emerico Samarca, Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo in 2015 and the oppression of her people, Jevilyn saw no other alternative but to wage armed struggle,” he added.
“But this is no basis to continue red-tagging members of the House of Representatives. Lorenzana’s claim that Jevilyn’s death is proof of Makabayan bloc’s link to the CPP is nothing but a strawman meant to divert from the real issues at hand,” Gaite said.
“Jevilyn’s death at the hands of the AFP does not prove Makabayan’s link to the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front),” he maintained.
He also said: “Instead of asking legitimate and duly elected lawmakers in Congress whether we are linked to the CPP-NPA-NDF or not, why not ask why our countrymen continue to join the NPA?”
Lorenzana said that Jevilyn’s killing showed that there is basis for their claims that Makabayan lawmakers support the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA.
“Dahil sa nangyari ngayon, anak pa ng congresswoman ‘yong namatay, ‘yong red-tagging namin ay may basis. May basis na sila ay sumusuporta, ‘yong Makabayan, sinusuportahan nila itong CPP-NPA (Because of what happened, that a daughter of congresswoman was killed, our red-tagging indeed has a basis. There is basis that they, the Makabayan bloc, are supportive of the CPP-NPA),” he said in an ambush interview during Monday’s commemoration of the 157th birth anniversary of revolution hero Andres Bonifacio in Caloocan City.
Rep. Carlos Zarate, also of the Bayan Muna, was reported as saying that Makabayan lawmakers are already preparing for the military’s campaign and red-tagging against them.
“Pinaghahandaan namin ‘yon dahil palalabasin na naman nila, kahit walang basehan na ito ay ebidensiya, na kami ay prente ng underground movement (We are preparing for that because they will again make it appear, even they have no basis or evidence to say that we are fronts of the underground communist movement),” Zarate said in an interview.
During the Senate hearing on the red-tagging activities of military, Zarate and other members of the House’s Makabayan bloc said they are not members of the CPP and the NPA. They maintained, however, that the government should address the concerns and root causes of the armed conflict, such as poverty.
In the same inquiry, Lorenzana and other defense officials also denied that they are engaged in red-tagging.
Jevilyn, youngest daughter of Rep. Cullamat, was killed in a gunfight between the military and NPA guerillas in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur last Saturday.