IP tribes want Makabayan banned
By Gab Humilde Villegas / Daily Tribune
Various indigenous tribes and communities have filed resolutions to declare Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat and other members of the Makabayan bloc as persona non grata in various places across the country.
Gaye Florendo, assistant spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said the initiatives came from the Indigenous Peoples of Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, MIMAROPA, Bicol Region, Western and Central Visayas, and Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, and the Central Mindanao region of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos (SOCCSKSARGEN).
The resolutions, Florendo said, were in retaliation for the Makabayan Bloc’s supposed blocking of the budget for the government agencies mandated to serve the indigenous communities.
The groups also called for the partylist representatives’ resignation.
Bayan Muna Partylist Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite; Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas; ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro; and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago compose the Makabayan Bloc in the 18th Congress.
The groups accused them of serving front organizations of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
Datu Rico Maca, a signatory to a petition, claimed to have supported Cullamat in the 2019 elections. He now charges Cullamat of not having any intention to pursue peace and development in Surigao del Sur.
The Makabayan Bloc supported Duterte in 2016.
Rurelyn Bay-ao, a Lumad who introduced herself as a scholar of the front organizations of the CPP-NPA, claimed to have been recruited to the underground organization while she was in Grade 6 — or about 12-years-old — in 2012.
Bay-ao said the CPP-NPA recruit minors for warriors. They allegedly “undergo some party courses and educational discussions” like the Pambansang Demokratikong Paaralan, Espesyal na Kursong Masa, Araling Aktibista, among others.
Major General Romeo S. Brawner Jr., Commander of the 4th Infantry Batallion (4ID) of the Philippine Army, said three minors — ages 11, 15, and 17 — are among the 10 NPA rebels captured in an armed encounter between soldiers of the 88th Infrantry Batallion and the more or less 20 NPA guerillas in Barangay Mabuhay, San Fernando, Bukidnon on 8 September.
Two more minors were captured in the same area two days after that.
Brawner also reported two minors have surrendered in Malaybalay City in Bukidnon. Recruitment of minors by the NPA, he said, violates Republic Act 11188, or the “Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act”.
In November last year, Cullamat’s daughter — Jevilyn Cullamat — was killed by the troops belonging to the 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion in an encounter at Barangay San Isidro in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur.
She was 22 then and had served the NPA as a medic.