By Billy Begas
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on Friday lambasted former Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat over the latter’s remarks on the tribal dress that she wore during the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Duterte said she wore the traditional Bagobo Tagabawa dress in honor of one of the tribes in Davao City.
“But I also wore it in solidarity with the lumads of Mindanao and the many other Indigenous Peoples (IP) groups all over the country who have been uprising against the terrorist New People’s Army’s chronic exploitation of their children, arming them as new recruits — nevermind if they are still minors and unable to understand the madness of the terrorism espoused by the NPAs,” Duterte said.
Duterte said she also aimed “to raise awareness of the victimization of the IPs by the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.”
She noted that IPs have “always been the favorite darling of the NPA for their recruitment and attacks — which happen every time they register their resistance.”
“It was to hold a space for another narrative unknown to many Filipinos and to bridge public awareness of what is horribly happening to the IPs in remote places — deceptions, recruitments, and killings are carried out without mercy by the NPAs and their supporters.”
In a social media post, Sandugo spokesperson Cullamat said that individuals wearing the traditional dress of IPs should also fight for their rights.
“Bukas kami sa mga gustong humiram ng aming kasuotan, pero dapat kilalanin din nila ang aming mga karapatan at laban. Walang saysay at pakitang tao lamang ang pagdamit ni VP Sara sa kasuotan ng Lumad gayong ni-redtag niya ang mga estudyante at guro ng mga iskwelahan ng Lumad. Tinakot pa niya at pinalayas ang mag Lumad sa santwaryo sa Davao City,” said Cullamat in the post.
Duterte said Cullamat should apologize to her fellow IPs for allowing a terrorist group like the NPA to strip them of their dignity as a people and dragging them into a war that serves them nothing as IPs.
The vice president said Cullamat should also apologize to her daughter, an NPA fighter who was killed in a gun battle in Mindanao in 2020.
“And as a mother of a dead NPA fighter, she should apologize to her daughter for sending her to her untimely gruesome demise,” she said.
Duterte said Davao City was declared insurgency-free when she stepped down as mayor and “They are now safe from the likes of Cullamat.”
Duterte said she will “continue to borrow and wear traditional dresses from IPs and other groups I want to honor and stand in solidarity with against terrorist organizations like the NPA and people like Cullamat.”
“And I promise not to stop so that parents like Cullamat do not bury the bullet-ridden bodies of their children — killed in a war perpetuated by a senseless and idiotic ideology,” she added.