The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday said it was unaware of Jevilyn Cullamat’s presence in the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) camp
soldiers have recently ran over in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur.
Cullamat, 22, was the youngest daughter of Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Eufemia Cullamat. She is the lone fatality in last Saturday’s raid conducted by the Philippine Army’s 3rd Special Force Battalion.
Former rebels, the AFP said, identified the body as Cullamat’s. She allegedly served as a medic in the Maoist army which has been waging a protracted war against the government with the Communist Party of the Philippines since 1969.
The AFP also denied treating Cullamat as a “war trophy” after photographs of soldiers posing beside her lifeless body still holding an automatic rifle beside a bag, communist paraphernalia, and several materiel have been shared online.
The photographs were for purposes of identification, AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said.
“It was not meant to scoff at the dead or demean the remains whose identity is not known to the soldiers,” Arevalo said. “It was not an AFP policy to pass a photo like that and a similar act constitutes a violation of our stringent policy.”
Cullamat’s body was brought down to lowland after a half-day trail by foot.
“She was left behind by her comrades,” Arevalo said.
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, meanwhile, retorted that the military is not to blame for the death of Jevilyn but the “fruitless armed conflict” perpetrated by what he called as “communist terrorists.”
“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,” Lorenzana said.
The lawmaker, meanwhile, branded her daughter as a “hero” despite her choice of joining the NPA.
“I love my daughter who only loved her country. I am proud of her. She’s a hero to the Lumad tribe and the country,” Cullamat said on Sunday. She is a leader of the Manobo tribe.
“I will indubitably say this: I am proud of Jevilyn because she fought against an oppressive system, especially the one against us, Lumads. No mother will reject her own child who has put aside personal interests and sacrificed her life for the people and for the defense of our ancestral land,” Cullamat said.
“Let our family mourn and pay tribute to her heroism,” she said.
Meanwhile, former rebels under the government’s Tupad Pangako Program received their initial financial assistance of P15,000 each from the Department of Social Welfare and Development XI and Provincial Social Welfare Division Office of Davao del Sur.
Their families also received 10 kilograms of rice and canned goods.
with Jun Aparece and Michelle Guillang