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Progressive groups hit soldiers over death of lawmaker’s daughter

PROGRESSIVE groups have condemned the death of Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat’s daughter whom the military reported as having died during an armed encounter between a military unit and the New People’s Army in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur on Saturday.

In a press statement, Assistant Minority Leader France Castro, a member of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives where Cullamat is also a member, branded as “karumal-dumal (heinous)” the death of Jevilyn Cullamat, whose family is a member of the Manobo community in Lianga, also in Surigao del Sur.

“Sagad-sagaring kahayupan at halang bituka ng mga militar na nagmamalaking tropeyo nila ang mga labi ni Jevilyn. Binaboy at ginawan pa ng kwento ang patay na katawan ni Jevilyn na hawak ang baril sa mga larawang nilabas na ngayo’y kumakalat sa social media,” said Castro.

She added that the death was even a violation of the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law” because the soldiers abused even the remains of the death.

“Nakasaad din sa International Humanitarian Law (IHL) ang pagrespeto sa mga labi sa sinumang kaiba ng prinsipyo at paniniwala na pinatutunayan ng mga militar na wala sila ni katiting na pagrespeto mapabuhay man yan o patay,” she added.

The victim’s mother, in a television interview, said she was not surprised why her daughter joined the rebel movement. She said members of her community have suffered from the abuses of the military and their paramilitary groups.

In its report, the military said members of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion in San Isidro, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur clashed with the group of Cullamat, whom the military identified as medic of the rebels.

Cullamat’s identity, said First Lt.Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, Civil -Military Operations (CMO) officer of the battalion, was established when nine former rebels identified her.

Punsalan added that the unit recovered five high-powered firearms were seized in a 45-minute encounter.

The military said the family of the slain rebel was immediately informed and was provided assistance in the handling of her cadaver.

Cullamat’s death has also divided the indigenous peoples’ community in the province as other leaders of the community claimed the rebels have long been killing their relatives.

In October, the rebels were tagged as behind the killing of Datu Jumar Bucales, Indigenous Peoples Mandatory representative in the Lianga Municipal Council,

Alexander Bucales who replaced his brother in the council even vowed not “stop the fight against these NPA terrorists until none of them roams in our ancestral lands.”

In a related development, Brigadier General Allan D. Hambala, 401st Infantry Brigade commander, extended condolences to the Cullamat family, claiming they were just victims of the rebel movement.
“While there are issues concerning the IPs, violent, armed, and terrorist struggle will never be the right solution to it,” Hambala said.

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