The death of the 22-year-old daughter of Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Eufemia Campos Cullamat in a clash between the New People’s Army (NPA) and government forces in Surigao Del Sur over the weekend highlights the senseless conflict being waged by communist terrorists.
“The death of 22-year-old armed rebel Jevilyn Cullamat during an encounter between the NPA and government forces is a grim reminder of the effects of the fruitless armed conflict perpetrated by these communist terrorist groups,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement on November 29, 2020.
Lorenzana said members of the Philippine Army (PA)’s 3rd Special Force Battalion immediately evacuated the younger Cullamat’s cadaver from the encounter site in the hinterlands of Barangay San Isidro, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur on Saturday afternoon.
“The military has also readily coordinated and provided transportation as well as security assistance to the Cullamat family. I have instructed the responding units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to ensure that the NPA casualty is treated with dignity,” he said.
Lorenzana called on Makabayan bloc representatives and all those who condone the atrocities committed by the NPA to denounce the divisive ideology that destroys the lives and property of fellow Filipinos.
“Let this incident bring to the fore the duplicity of the communist terrorist movement, whose members in the higher echelons pit Filipinos against fellow Filipinos,” he added.
The public, he said, can be rest assured that Filipino troops shall remain vigilant and ready to defend communities against the communist terrorists whose only goal is to sow hatred and violence.
In another interview on November 30, 2020, the defense chief said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA seems not to care about the deaths of the students and others they have recruited in their senseless fight.
“Para sa tingin naman ng defense tsaka security sector ay parang wala silang concern sa mga namamatay na mga estudyante, dating estudyante na sumasama sa mga NPA kasi karamihan ngayon sa kanilang nare-recruit ay kabataan. Ang tingin ko eh parang (As for the defense and security sector’s perspective, it seems they do not have any concern for those students and former students who die after joining the NPA because they have recruited many of them. It seems to me that) they do not care if these people die for as long they can pursue their so-called armed struggle,” he added.
Lorenzana, meanwhile, condoled with the Cullamat family over the death of Jevilyn.
“Losing the young is a tragedy in itself but losing them in a senseless war being waged by the NPA against the government is an even greater tragedy. This killing of our youth will continue until their recruitment in or out of school is stopped. I call on all parents to be vigilant to prevent their children from being recruited. I also call on the Makabayan bloc to stop supporting the CPP/NPA and denounce the NPA, who have left a trail of death and destruction all over the country for more than 50 years. Let us unite for our country,” he added.
Meanwhile, AFP spokesperson Marine Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo, in a statement late Sunday, said the military condoles with the Cullamat family following the death of Jevilyn.
“The AFP deeply condoles with Congresswoman Eufemia Cullamat and her family for the demise of her youngest daughter Jevilyn Cullamat, 22 years old, an NPA combatant, who died in an armed encounter with government security forces around 4 p.m. of 28 November 2020 in Barangay San Isidro, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur,” he added.
Seized in the clash were five high powered firearms, explosives, and other communist terrorist group‘s documents and paraphernalia were confiscated.
“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 these more than five decades of fighting,” he added.
Arevalo said this senseless killing of and by fellow Filipinos—espoused and propagated by CPP leaders like Jose Maria “Joma” Sison living luxuriously in some foreign land— should come to an end.
“We can only pray for the many youth whose lives have been wasted by Sison’s deception and lies — including that of the daughter of the Representative and other sorrowful mothers whose children have died or are now in the ranks of the NPA. Arevalo said they are reaching 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,” he added.
Arevalo said there should not be another Jevilyn Cullamat or another Congresswoman Cullamat to suffer another loss for a senseless cause.
The AFP also denied allegations that the remains of the NPA combatant was used as a trophy.
“The photo was taken for reporting and documentation purposes that is required after every encounter. It was not meant to scoff at the dead or demean the remains whose identity is not known to the soldiers,” he added.
Arevalo said to be able to identify her, the soldiers had to carry the dead body for half a day of a hike from the site of the encounter where she was left behind by her NPA comrades to the lowland.
“It was not an AFP policy to pass a photo like that; and a similar act constitutes a violation of our stringent policy. The matter is already being investigated and the one who caused that (now) faces sanctions,” he said. (Priam Nepomuceno, PNA)