MANILA (UPDATE) - Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Eufemia Cullamat on Sunday confirmed her daughter was killed in an encounter between the military and members of the New People's Army.
The Philippine Army earlier reported that Cullamat’s daughter, Jevilyn, was killed in a clash with the NPA in Barangay San Isidro, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur Saturday.
Jevilyn served as a medic of the NPA and her identity was confirmed by former rebels, the military said.
In a statement, Rep. Cullamat, who belongs to the Manobo tribe, said she understood why her daughter joined the revolutionary movement.
"Di ako nagtataka kung sumapi sa NPA ang aking anak dahil sa patuloy na nararanasan naming mga katutubo sa mga pagmamalupit at pang-aabuso ng AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) at ng kanilang mga paramilitary groups. Naranasan mismo ito ng aming pamilya," she said.
(I am not surprised that my daughter joined the NPA because we indigenous people continue to experience the abuses and cruelty of the AFP and their paramilitary groups. Our own family has experienced this.)
Cullamat said her daughter was already of legal age when she decided to join the NPA. The militant solon also said she understands why her daughter took up arms.
"Naniniwala ako na makatwiran ang kaniyang ipinaglalaban pero ibang porma ang kanyang pinili para mapigilan ang pambubusabos sa aming mga lumad at katutubo at para magkaroon din ng makaturangang lipunan," she added.
(I believe that what she was fighting for was just, but she chose a different path to stop the abuses against Lumads and indigenous peoples and to have a just society.)
Cullamat also said she grieves for her daughter, and knows the military will use her child's death against Bayan Muna and the Makabayan bloc.
"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," she added.
(I know the military will use their killing of my daughter to weave lies against Bayan Muna and the Makabayan bloc but we stand for truth and their lies will not solve the roots of the country’s problems.)
The AFP said they recovered from three AK-47 rifles, one M14 rifle, and one M653 5.56 caliber rifle, as well as 5 backpacks containing war materials and subversive documents from the site of the encounter.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Allan Hambala, 401st Infantry Brigade Commander, condoled with the family of Cullamat and urged indigenous peoples to condemn the NPA's "exploitation of IPs (indigeous peoples)".
“While there are issues concerning the IPs, violent, armed, and terrorist struggle will never be the right solution to it,” he said.
CULLAMAT CONDEMNS 'DESECRATION OF DAUGHTER'S REMAINS'
In a separate statement, Cullamat condemned what she said was the desecration of her daughter's remains.
Photos released by the Philippine Army showed Jevilyn's body, along with recovered firearms and other paraphernalia from the clash site.
"Hindi siya bagay, hindi siya isang tropeo na ipaparada para lamang sa propaganda ng militar. Hindi niyo na ginalang ang patay, binabastos pa ninyo ang nagluluksa naming pamilya. Hinihiling ko sa militar na huwag gamiting tropeo ang bangkay ng aking anak. Hayaan ninyo ang aming pamilya na makapagluksa at makapagbigay ng parangal sa kabayanihan niya," Cullamat said.
(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 though Jevilyn's death is painful for her, she still respects her daughter's decision to join the armed movement.
"Bagamat bilang isang ina ay nag-alala rin ako at masakit ang mawalan ng isang anak, nanaig pa rin ang respeto ko sa naging desisyon ni Jev," she said.
(As a mother, though I was worried and it is painful to lose a child, I still respect Jev's decision.)
She also said she is proud of what her daughter did.
"Walang pag-alinlangan kong sasabihin ito: ipinagmamalaki ko si Jevilyn dahil lumaban siya sa isang sistemang mapang-api lalo na sa aming mga Lumad. Walang nanay na magtatakwil sa anak na nagsantabi ng pansariling interes at nag-alay ng kanyang buhay para sa bayan at para sa pagdepensa sa aming lupang ninuno," Cullamat said.
(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.)
- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News