Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat on Tuesday said the military should not use the death of her daughter to “red tag” Makabayan lawmakers and progressive groups.
Cullamat was in tears as she appealed for respect for the death of her youngest daughter, Jevilyn, who was killed in a clash between government troops and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur last Saturday.
“Walang awa nilang pinarada ang aking anak kasama ang di umano’y nasamsam na mga armas at kagamitan ng NPA (They paraded my daughter with the weapons and items they allegedly seized from the NPA). Pinaslang siya, ginawa pang tropeyo ng digma para lang magamit sa kanilang paninira sa aming tribo, sa aming pamilya, at sa aming organisasyon. (She was killed and even treated as a trophy of war to malign our tribe, our family and our organization),” Cullamat said in video statement that the Makabayan representatives presented in the third Senate hearing on the suppose red-tagging activities of military and defense officials.
“Pilit ginagamit…ang pagkamatay niya para sa red-tagging sa Bayan Muna (They are deliberately using her death for their red-tagging of Bayan Muna),” she lamented.
Cullamat maintained that it was her daughter’s decision to join the NPA , and that neither she nor the Bayan Muna influenced her to join the armed struggle.
“Lilinawin ko lamang, walang kinalaman ang Bayan Muna sa naging desisyon ng aking anak. Hindi niyo siya maaaring gamiting ebidensya para sa red-tagging ng aming organisasyon. ‘Pagkat personal niyang desisyon ang kanyang sinusunod. Hindi sa akin, lalo’t hindi sa Bayan Muna (Let me clarify, Bayan Muna had nothing to do with my daughter’s decision. You cannot use her as an evidence to red tag our organization. Because she followed her own decision. Not mine, especially not the Bayan Muna),” the lawmaker said.
“Hindi siya tanga na madaling madala lalong hindi tipong magpapaloko o bulag na susunod. Kaya hindi ko kailanman matatanggap ang paratang sa kanya na siya ay nalinlang lamang. (She is not stupid who will be easily swayed and more especially not the type who will easily be fooled or blindly follow),” she said.
Still, Cullamat said she respected Jevilyn’s decision, reiterating that the poverty experienced by the Lumad tribe and the military’s supposed oppression drove her to join the armed communist group.
“Naging rebelde siya, salamat sa inyong mga nakauniporme. Kayong hindi na nakapaghintay na matapos ang aming pagluluksa at gigil na gigil na ninyong gamitin ang kanyang pagkamatay para bigyang katwiran ang inyong paninira at paninikil sa aming organisasyon. (She became a rebel, thanks to you, men in uniform. You who cannot wait for us to grieve and are dying to use her death as a basis for your claims against our organization),” she said.
“Gusto niyong kondenahin ang Bayan Muna si Jevilyn? Hindi po! Intindihin niyo muna ang hirap na pinagdadaanan naming mga Lumad sa araw-araw (You want Bayan Muna to condemn Jevilyn? No! Understand first the struggles that we Lumads have to deal with every day),” she said.
“Mahal ko ang aking anak, hindi ko siya kailanman ikahihiya, o ikatatatwa. Ako ang nagpasilang sa kanya. Mabait siya, walang ibang hangad kundi matulungan ang mga Lumad laban sa mga nang-aapi sa amin. (I love my daughter, I will never be ashamed of her, or deny her. I gave to her. She is good, and had no other intention but to help the Lumads against those who oppress us).”
“Alamin niyo ang problema ng aming komunidad. Itigil ninyo ang pangggipit sa amin, igalang ninyo ang namatay, ang aking pagluluksa, ang aming pagluluksa (Know the problems faced by our community. Stop harassing us, respect the dead, my grief, our grief),” Cullamat further said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) maintained that they did not desecrate Jevilyn’s remains as complained by human rights advocates.
“We did not. Mr. Chairman. We treated the body of Jevilyn Cullamat with respect and dignity,” AFP deputy chief-of-staff Rear Admiral Erick Kagaoan responded when asked by Sen. Panfilo Lacson if they indeed disrespected the deceased.
Kagaoan said the soldiers only “performed their constitutional mandate as the protector of our people”.