Over a hundred IP communities turn back on Cullamat and Makabayan bloc lawmakers

BAGUIO CITY (September 13, 2021)— At least 126 Indigenous Peoples (IPs) communities on Monday  called Bayan Partylist Representative Eufemia Cullamat and other Makabayan Bloc members in Congress to step down.
At tne virtual press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Gaye Florendo, NTF ELCAC Assistant Spokesperson for Public Affairs and Indigenous Peoples Concerns read the resolutions of the IPs that they will “no longer tolerate and allow (Cullamat) and all the other members of the Makabayan Bloc, including Kabataan Rep. Elago and Bayan Muna Rep.  Carlos Isagani Zarate, “to misrepresent, manipulate, and use the indigenous communities to serve their violent political agenda.”

“This is actually a call for them to resign from their posts,” Florendo said, “and this call was made after the Makabayan Bloc blocked the budgets of the agencies mandated to provide basic services sa ating mga IP communities, and particularly because the link and support of these partylist groups to the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) have become clearer, from statements of former high-ranking leaders of the CPP-NPA who surrendered and were recruited to the NPA through these partylist groups.”

She also said that through the resolutions, the 126-strong IP communities declared Cullamat as a “Persona Non Grata”.  The resolutions also stated that Cullamat does not represent the IP communities and her claim to be an indigenous representative is a grave violation of the indigenous customs and practices.

Florendo is confident that this unified call against Cullamat and the Makabayan bloc is “only the start and will continue.”

“Malinaw para sa ating mga IP communities, na hindi lang ito tungkol sa misrepresentation and false claims, at pagho-hostage at pagpilay sa kakayahan at mandato ng pamahalaan na maghatid ng serbisyo sa ating mga katutubo kungdi ang panagutin sina Rep. Cullamat, ang Makabayan bloc at ang CPP-NPA sa mga krimeng nagawa nila sa ating mga katutubong pamayanan, gaya ng pag-rekrut, pag-organisa at ang tuloy-tuloy na pagpaslang ng ating mga IPs, kabataan, kababaihan at mga tradisyunal na lider,” Florendo stressed.

On the other hand, Datu Rico Maca, Municipal Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur said, though Cullamat is also an IP member of the Manobo Tribe,she failed to represent them, while receiving no action or support from Cullamat even as they helped Bayan Muna gain a seat in Congress.”

Datu Rico claimed he saw no remorse and condemnation from Rep. Cullamat in the killing of IP leaders and the unabated recruitment of indigenous youth and women to Bayan Muna and the CPP-NPA-NDF through alternative schools, ALCADEV and TRIFPPS in Surigao del Sur.

“Malinaw po sa amin na hindi po ang kapakanan ng mga katutubo ang mahalaga kay Rep. Cullamat kundi ang CPP-NPA. Hindi na po kami magtataka dahil ang kanyang anak mismo ay miyembro ng CPP-NPA. Manlilinlang sila, balakid at banta sa aming mga katutubo at mamamatay tao. Kaya’t kami po ay nananawagan sa kanyang pag-resign. Tulungan ninyo sana kaming panagutin sila,” Datu Rico said.

“Inaasahan namin magiging boses siya (Cullamat) ng aming mga tribu. Naging iba ang resulta. Inasahan namin si Cullamat. Walang plano sa kapayapaan at sa aming mga kabataan,” Maca said referring to their expectations that the Partylist Representative will work for the benefit of their ancestral domain.

“Sana mag-resign na siya. Siya ang anay ng aming mga kabataan. siya ang basura. Kung tinawag niya si Gen. Parlade na basura… Siya ang totoong basura. Di na siya mapakinabangan ng aming mga tribu,” Maca declared noting that Cullamat and her colleagues continue to destroy the future of their youth in the deceitful recruitment of child warriors.

Meanwhile, Rurelyn Bay-ao, a 26-year-old former Bakwit scholar who was recruited at the young age of 12 in 2012 and still in Grade-6, said ‘if she had not surrendered, she might be one of the young IP NPA warriors who were injured or killed in gun battles with government troops.’

Bay-ao recounted how she was waylaid by false promises when she was recruited, in the hope that she would avail of free educations but was only used as mouth piece in rallies and other school and universities recruitment schemes of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“Sila ang sumisira sa aming kinabukasan. Yun sinasabi nilang (CPP-NPA-NDF) kami ang mga human rights and environmental defenders ay kasinungalingan. Sila ang dinidepensahan namin,” Bay-ao explained, recounting that she was even sent to abroad like Hongkong, Thailand and South Korea to talk and convince “funders” that will pour money for the movement for its activities that were not really took place for the benefits of IPs.

She added that during her talks in universities and the last time she appeared at a Congressional Inquiry, she was briefed by their leaders on what to say as she is also not allowed to tell what has not been told.

“Lahat ng aming gagawin like rallies…lahat may briefing. Tinuturo ang mga sasabihin namin,” she said as she vowed that she will now help other IP youth recruited by the CPP-NPA-NDF get out of the clutches of the terrorist group.

“Tutulungan ko mga kasamahan ko, kamag-anak ko, lahat ng na-recruit ko na bumalik sa pamahalaan. Kung walang NPA sa aming lugar walang kaguluhan,” Bay-ao further explained.

Artemio A. Dumlao