MANILA - The military on Monday sent its condolences to Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Eufemia Cullamat whose daughter was killed in an encounter between government troops and New People's Army rebels in Surigao del Sur.
In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Jevilyn Cullamat, 22, an NPA combatant, was killed in an armed encounter with government security forces in Barangay San Isidro, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur last Saturday.
"We grieve deeply with the Bayan Muna Representative and her family as we would for many Filipino families —including soldiers’— who have lost a father, a mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, or kin who died in this more than 5 decades of fighting," Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said in a statement.
Arevalo described Cullamat's death as a "senseless killing" and blamed Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison for "the many youth whose lives have been wasted by Sison’s deception and lies."
"We reach out to those who continue to fight for or advocate this meaningless battle. We urge them to return to the folds of the law, assist in peaceful but meaningful change, and help heal the wounds that widely divided our nation and its people. There should not be another Jevilyn Cullamat; or another Congresswoman Cullamat to suffer another loss for a senseless cause," he said.
Rep. Cullamat, who belongs to the Manobo tribe, earlier 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.)