Let's respect Jevilyn's decision -- Rep. Castro

Can't we just respect Jevilyn Cullamat's decision?

ACT-Teachers Party-List Rep. France Castro gave this message Tuesday to critics of the Makabayan bloc, which has found itself at the center of attention following Jevilyn's death in an NPA-military firefight on Saturday.

Jevilyn, 22, was the daughter of Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Eufemia Cullamat. Cullamat, like Castro belongs to the militant Makabayan faction in the House of Representatives.

Referring to Jevilyn's death alongside New People's Army (NPA) rebels, Castro said: "Katulad ng ineexpect natin, talagang gagamitin ito ng mga red-taggers para i-relate talaga ang Makabayan dito sa armadong pakikibaka (Like what we expected, the red-taggers will really use this to connect Makabayan to the armed struggle)."

"Pwede bang igalang na lang natin yung desisyon ng bata doon sa tingin niya na pamamaraan na nagbunsod sa kanya doon sa kalagayan ng kanilang pamayanan? (Can't we just respect the child's decision which she based on the state of her community?)" she asked,

"I-respeto natin yung katahimikan ng pamilya ni Rep. Cullamat sa ngayong panahon na sila ay nagdadalamhati (Let's respect the mournful silence of Rep. Cullamat's family at this time)," Castro added.

On Sunday, Manobo leader Rep. Cullamat justified her daughter's choice to join the rebels' cause by revealing that the latter had previously witnessed alleged atrocities carried out on their kind by the military.

Meanwhile, Castro belied allegations that the younger Cullamat was a combatant.

"Sinabi naman ng sundalo na medic ito. So ibig sabihin si Jevilyn Cullamat hindi siya armado noong panahon na...siya ay medic ( The soldiers said that she was a medic. So that means as a medic, Jevilyn Cullamat wasn't armed)."

The assistant minority leader further reiterated the Makabayan's stand that Jevilyn's apparent link to the NPA doesn't necessarily mean that the militant congressmen are NPA or Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) supporters.

"Matagal na naming pinabubulaan na kami ay nag-eespouse ng pagbagsak ng gobyerno lalo na yung armadong pakikibaka (We have long denied that we are espousing the fall of government via armed struggle)," Castro said.