Duterte refutes red-tagging but warns that rebels, even women fighters, will likely die in clashes with gov’t troops

Published December 1, 2020, 11:55 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Communist rebels, particularly women fighters, will likely die in a clash with the government troops, President Duterte declared Monday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on November 30, 2020. (KARL NORMAN ALONZO / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The President voiced confidence about the chances of defeat of the rebels in a military encounter after mentioning the death of Jevilyn Cullamat in his televised address Monday night.

“O kita mo ‘yung kay Cullamat. O ‘di anak niya mismo, babae pa. Ah sigurado patay ‘yan. Babae ilaban mo sa sundalo? Ah patay sigurado. (Look at what happened to Cullamat. Her own daughter was involved, a woman. Why let a woman fight a soldier? She will certainly die),” he said in his remarks.

Duterte had earlier identified the Makabayan bloc as among the legal fronts of the communist rebel group, saying they were part of an alleged grand conspiracy to bring down the government.

But the President told the rebels dreaming of “utopia” that this was not possible. 

“You dream of a country, gusto ninyo ano, ‘yung utopia (you want utopia). It’s not possible here. You have to realize that,” he said.

“Walang red-tagging-red tagging. Talagang komunista kayo, talagang kasama kayo (You are really communists, you are part of the group). Time will come,” he added.

Jevilyn, the 22-year-old daughter of Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, was killed in a clash between the military and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Surigao del Sur on Nov. 28. She reportedly served as a medic of the rebels.

The military released a photo showing the deceased rebel alongside seized weapons, triggering an uproar from her family. Cullamat admitted that her daughter joined the NPA to fight the injustices against the indigenous peoples but asked the military not to use her remains as a trophy.

In his speech, the President warned about the possible extinction of the Lumads if these indigenous peoples will support the communist movement before he addressed the killing of Jevilyn.

He told the Lumads to return to their homes, saying they were only being deceived by the NPA rebels. 

“I think 75 percent, at least in Mindanao, mga Lumad. Kayong mga Lumad, umuwi kayo. Sabihin ninyo sa mga tao ninyo na niloloko lang sila ng — niloloko ng ano, ng NPA talaga. Totoo ‘yan. Ang maraming namatay ang Lumad (I think 75 percent, at least in Mindanao, are Lumads. You Lumads go home. Tell your people they are being fooled by the NPA. That’s the truth. Many Lumads have died),” he said.

“So if this thing goes on, the Lumads, ‘yung native na Pilipino talaga, it will become an extinct tribe. ‘Pag hindi kayo — ‘pag hindi kayo huminto diyan, lumayas, forever kayong wanted. Eh sabi nga ni Parlade sa Armed Forces, delikado kayong mamatay kayo sama-sama kayo diyan (If this thing goes on, the Lumads, the really native Filipinos, it will become  an extinct tribe. If you don’t stop, if you don’t leave, you will be wanted by authorities forever. Like what Parlade of the Armed Forces said, it’s dangerous. You might die if you join the rebels),” he said.

Prior to his remarks about Jevilyn, the President alleged that the Makabayan, Bayan, and Gabriela are among the front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army. 

The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives is composed of six party-list lawmakers from Bayan Muna, ACT Teachers, Gabriela Women’s Party, and Kabataan.

“We are not tagging you. We are identifying you as communist. It’s a grand conspiracy. So the liability of a mere soldier, is the liability of all the members of the organizations, iyong mga front (those are the front organizations),” Duterte said.

A visibly annoyed President also singled out Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate in his latest rebuke, calling him a communist.   “You are friends with the NPA, you are co-conspirators. Komunista ka, adre, matagal na alam ko (You are a communist. I’ve known it for a long time),” he said.