IP kids more protected sans Bayan Muna: VP Sara

Vice President Sara Z. Duterte lashed back anew at former Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat saying the partylist group’s failure to get a seat in 19th Congress means Filipino children, especially indigenous peoples (IP), are now more protected from the destructive ideology that the Makabayan Bloc espouses.

“More Filipino families can now sleep soundly at night and wake up in the morning hopeful that their children will get the education that they truly need — not from the Salungpungan NPA-influenced instruction being forced by the Makabayan Bloc to us,” Duterte said in a strongly worded statement issued on Saturday night.

The statement came a day after Duterte, who is also Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary, issued a rejoinder to Cullamat who called her wearing of a tribal dress as “useless,” and only a “show-off” since the former red-tagged the students and teachers of IP schools.

“We have clearly seen how Makabayan Bloc is desperately spinning things around as they scramble to make sense in a world that has already rendered them inconsequential,” she said. “I congratulate the Filipino people for finally purging Congress with the likes of Bayan Muna and Eufemia Cullamat.”

She went on to say that IP schools referred to as “Salugpungan” in Davao were all shut down in 2019 because the schools were not serving the interest of the learners that is to provide them with basic education.

In October 2019, three months after suspending its operations for alleged irregularities and links with the communist movement, DepEd in Region 11 ordered the closure of 55 controversial Salugpungan Ta’TanuIgkanogon Community Learning Center Inc. (STTICLCI) schools based on the findings of the five-man fact-finding committee that they lacked permits.

“While the Salugpungan schools were shut down because they were illegally operating — the schools were run by teacher volunteers who allegedly had links with the terrorist group New People’s Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF),” she said.

The Salugpungan schools, she added, were shut down because they were not helping DepEd-operated schools fill in the education gap for the learners except maybe for subjects dedicated to the indoctrination of the children by the volunteer teachers whose real assignments were to groom the children and prepare them to join the armed terrorism of the NPA.

“They may have the genuine passion to serve IP children and the desire to see IP children emancipated from illiteracy, ignorance, and perhaps poverty, but this passion has been misplaced, stolen, and lost in the ideology of the NPA,” she said.

With member partylist groups of the Makabayan Bloc suffering the tragedy of losing in the May 2022 elections, Duterte said this is something that speaks volumes of their relevance today and could, even more, speak volumes of their contribution to nation building, or the apparent lack of it.

“It now attempts to make the Filipino public believe that their intentions are noble when they curiously started this tit-for-tat with a criticism of that BagoboTagabawa dress I wore to the SoNA (State of the Nation Address),” she said.

Cannot be trusted

She warned self-respecting Filipinos not to fall for the drama of Makabayan Bloc because its cannot be trusted.

“The dress that I wore to the SoNA and why I wore it doesn’t really interest Cullamat and the rest of Makabayan Bloc. They can lie about it but the Salugpungan schools that we shut down do not also matter to them,” she added.

The IP children, she said, being potential recruits of the NPA is something that’s within their political agenda so it’s only convenient for them to turn a blind on eye.

“The Filipino people should not fall for the fakery being peddled by Makabayan Bloc or to this disgusting deliberate effort to twist the narrative to favor their interest and the interest of the NPA, CPP and NDF,” she added.

She said members of the Makabayan Bloc are still desperate to salvage themselves from their fall from grace by coming out with outrageous claims that only them and those they have brainwashed believe.

Raising awareness

Duterte earlier said she wore the traditional Bagobo Tagabawa dress in honor of one of the tribes that form the 11 groups of people of Davao City, apart from the Christians, and in solidarity with the IPs of Mindanao other groups all over the country who have been uprising against the NPA’s chronic exploitation of their children by arming them as new recruits.

“It was lobbying in the open public the welfare of IPs who have always been the favorite darling of the NPA for their recruitment and attacks — which happen every time they register their resistance,” she said.

Eufemia Cullamat, she said, is an IP herself whose NPA fighter daughter died in Mindanao in 2020.

“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,” she added.

“And as a mother of a dead NPA fighter, she should apologize to her daughter for sending her to her untimely gruesome demise.”

Duterte said she will continue to borrow and wear traditional dresses from IPs and other groups she wants to honor and stand in solidarity with against terrorist organizations like the NPA and people like Cullamat.

“And I will not waver. In fact, you will see me even more relentless because I have a responsibility to the Filipino people, especially to the Filipino children,” she said.

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