DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The daughter of Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Eufemia Cullamat was killed in an encounter between the military and guerrilla forces last Saturday in Surigao del Sur.
Reports from the military released last Sunday said the 3rd Special Forces Battalion engaged with the New People’s Army in a 45-minute encounter in Barangay San Isidro, Marihatag, and that Cullamat’s daughter, Jevilyn, was left behind in the aftermath.
The military identified the younger Cullamat as an NPA medic.
Her body was brought to Barangay Mararag where relatives claimed the body.
Rep. Cullamat said in a statement written in Filipino that she grieves for her daughter’s death.
“As a mother, my heart is shattered to hear of my daughter Jevilyn’s death in that incident in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur,” she said.
Cullamat said that even though Jevilyn’s death is painful, she still respects why her daughter took to armed struggle, as she is old enough to make her decision.
“Her decision was not a simple matter”
She said Jevilyn’s decision is a result of witnessing the dire poverty and alleged abuses of the military and paramilitary groups that indigenous people continued to experience, the progressive solon said.
“She saw with her two eyes how the paramilitary brutally killed our leader, Dionel Campos, Datu Bello Sinzo, and ALCADEV executive director Emerito Samarca on September 1, 2015,” she said.
“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 take the armed struggle was not a simple matter, and it’s borne of the abuses and hardship that we experienced as Lumad)” said Cullamat.
Not a trophy
But Cullamat chided the military, who earlier posted photos of her daughter’s dead body with an armalite slung on her body.
“She is not an object; she is not a trophy that you can use for military propaganda. You did not respect the dead and even insulted our grieving family. I ask the military not to use my daughter’s remains as a trophy. Allow our family to grieve and pay respect to her heroism,” Cullamat said
Human rights lawyer Edre Olalia pointed out that the government needs to respect the protocols in international law that calls for respect of bodies killed in an armed conflict.
Kabataan Partylist also said slammed the military’s propaganda as “unacceptable”, calling out media and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to take down the photos, and not use it as propaganda against progressive groups.
Some of the Facebook pages linked to the Armed Forces have taken down the photo.
Cullamat said that it is an honor for her to have a daughter who’s a martyr and a warrior.
“I will not hesitate in saying this: I am proud of Jevilyn because she fought against an oppressive system, especially to us Lumad. No mother will disown a child who put aside her personal interest and offered her life in service to the country and to defend our ancestral lands.”
“Mahal ko ang anak ko na nagmahal sa bayan. Ipinagmalalaki ko siya. Bayani siya ng mga Lumad at ng buong bayan.” (I love my daughter who loved this country. I am proud of her for being a hero for the Lumad and the nation),” she said. (davaotoday.com)AFP, Bayan Muna Partylist, lumad, Mindanao, NPA, Peace process, Representative Eufemia Cullamat