A young woman’s epiphany divides a nation

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    THE fans and defenders of NPA fighter Jevilyn Cullamat, a martyr for the communist cause and a heroine to her Manobo tribe, are stumbling over themselves in trying to justify, romanticize and immortalize the young woman’s short life. Just 22 and with a congresswoman as a mother, Jevilyn and her family are not exactly poor, and had she chosen the right path, she could have finished college in a good university, found a job or a calling, and rendered service to her tribe and the rest of the indigenous communities in Mindanao to uplift their lives in a peaceful way.

    Jevilyn chose the risky path of believing and internalizing Amado Guerrero’s “Philippine Society and Revolution,” joining the armed struggle advocated in this alleged largely plagiarized work of JMS, and ending dead while setting up a “duyan” to sleep and relax in after a hard day’s work of propagandizing and organizing the masses in Surigao del Norte. Surprised by an attacking unit of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, Jevilyn’s ragtag SYP (Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda) engaged the troopers in a short firefight, hurriedly withdrew to the forest, leaving the poor girl dead in the undergrowth.

    Now, Rep. Edcel Lagman (Independent, Albay) and Rep. France Castro (Bayan Muna partylist) are saying that Jevilyn was not armed, was not a combatant, because she was a medic in that NPA band, and that the military has laid a rifle beside the body for a photo shoot. This lame and laughable argument goes against the assertion of her mother, Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, that her daughter “joined the armed conflict,” i.e., Jevilyn took up arms to fight government forces.

    ‘Let us not dance around. Castro wanted the rest of Filipinos to “respect” young Jevilyn’s decision to join the NPA, to take on the path of violence, duplicity, and killings…’

    And Congresswoman Castro of the ACT-Teachers partylist, one of the organizations which President Duterte branded as a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines, urged the public: “Can’t we just respect Jevilyn Cullamat’s decision?”

    Let us not dance around. Castro wanted the rest of Filipinos to “respect” young Jevilyn’s decision to join the NPA, to take on the path of violence, duplicity, and killings that have been the hallmark of the movement since Jose Ma. Sison decided to demonize and leave the Lavas’ old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) in the 1960s.

    Castro said, “Like what we expected, the red-taggers will really use this to connect the Makabayan bloc to the armed struggle.”

    As far as we know — and we have been following news media since Saturday when the Surigao del Norte encounter occurred — not one military or government official had claimed that the “Makabayan group” and Jevilyn’s cause were connected. It was Castro, Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, Teddy Casiño, etc. who first mentioned this narrative. Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, Lt. Col. Joey Baybayan, 1st Lt. Andreo Punzalan and others had been careful not to mention this link, in deference to the death of a congresswoman’s daughter in such circumstances.

    The Left, the Yellows, the CHR, the political opposition and their supporters and trolls in the Internet on one hand, and the NTF-ELCAC, Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, General Hermogenes Esperon and Parlade on the other, are best advised to observe a moratorium on this problem of red-tagging to appreciate the issues clearly and devoid of emotions. That way, they can all give justice to their claims that their respective positions are on the side of the Filipino people, i.e., to the best interest of the nation.