Government troops carried the remains of slain New People’s Army (NPA) rebel Jevilyn Cullamat for five hours after she was abandoned by her comrades who fled after a clash in Surigao del Sur, a military official told the Senate on December 1, 2020.
“We treated the body with respect and dignity. In fact, our soldiers carried her body for almost half a day,” said Rear Adm. Erick Kagaoan, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff, during the resumption of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation hearing.
He added that Jevilyn, daughter of Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, “died as a non-state combatant of a group, the CPP-NPA (which was) already declared as an armed terrorist group”.
Kagaoan said government troops were responding to reports of armed groups disturbing the peace in the locality.
“The AFP did not commit the cause of her suffering. She died in the midst of a legitimate gun battle,” Kagaoan said, adding that the soldiers “merely performed their constitutional mandate as the protector of the people and we stand by our mandate to protect the Constitution”.
Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), added that the body of Jevilyn was abandoned by her comrades.
“Instead of leaving the body there, our soldiers took the body, wrapped it very gently. Hindi po ginawang tropeo (It was not turned into war trophy),” Badoy added.
The clash occurred between the members of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion and the communist terrorists who were part of the Guerilla Front 19, in Sitio Mabug in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur on November 28.
The troops seized a major terrorist base with two kitchens, 22 tents, and a strong cellular signal.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., appearing before the Senate, said the site has long been part of several anniversary celebrations of the communist terrorist groups.
“That is really a guerilla base. We do not do that in the armed forces,” Esperon said, referring to alleged acts of desecration of the remains of fallen terrorists.
The Senate is conducting the hearing in the exercise of its oversight authority over the defense sector on the issue of alleged red-tagging/red-baiting of certain celebrities, personalities, institutions, and organizations.
CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (Benjamin Pulta, PNA)