A daughter of Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat was killed in an encounter with a contingent of the Philippine military on Saturday, November 28.
According to a dispatch from the 3rd Special Forces "Arrowhead" Battalion released on Sunday, November 29, Jevilyn Cullamat alias "Ka Reb," 22, was the lone fatality in a 45-minute encounter in Barangay San Isidro in Marihatag town in Surigao del Sur.
According to soldiers, the younger Cullamat served as a medic of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The military did not disclose details of the clash or how Cullamat ended up dead.
After the clash, the soldiers posed for photos with seized firearms, communist flags, and the lifeless body of Cullamat lying bloodied on the ground.
The military said Cullamat's identity was confirmed with the help of at least 9 former rebels, and that they informed her family of her death.
Bayan Muna lawmaker Cullamat, also a leader of the indigenous Manobo tribe, said her daughter experienced and witnessed military abuses firsthand. This, said the congresswoman, may have prompted Jevilyn to join the NPA.
"Walang kapantay ang aking dalamhati sa pagpatay ng militar sa aking anak na si Jevilyn. Dumagdag ang dugo ng aking anak sa libong kalumaran na nagpatak ng dugo sa lupa para sa kalayaan at laban sa historikong pang-aapi sa aming hanay," Cullamat said in a statement on Sunday.
(There is no grief as painful as what I feel now after the military killed my daughter Jevilyn. Her blood adds to thousands of indigenous peoples who offered their own blood to fight against the historic oppression that we experience.)
"Alam ko na gagamitin ng militar ang kanilang pagpatay sa aking anak para lalo pang maglubid ng kasinungalingan sa Bayan Muna at Makabayan bloc, pero naninindigan kami sa katotohanan at 'di malulutas ng kanilang mga boladas at kasinungalingan ang ugat ng mga problema ng bansa," the lawmaker also said.
(I know the military will use this to lie further about Bayan Muna and the Makabayan bloc, but we stand firm with the truth and their deception and lies will not be able to address the roots of the problems of the nation.)
Bayan Muna and other members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives have repeatedly condemned the red-tagging against them.
In its statement on Sunday, the military urged communist rebels to surrender, saying they are "losing ground" in their battle.
"While there are issues concerning the IPs (indigenous peoples), violent, armed, and terrorist struggle will never be the right solution to it," said Brigadier General Allan Hambala of the military's 401st Infantry Brigade. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.