BUTUAN CITY – Leaders of indigenous peoples (IP) communities in Surigao del Sur gathered Sunday afternoon for a ritual called “boney”, a ceremony intended to impose penalties on fellow tribe members who committed offenses.
Different IP Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) in the province want Bayan Muna party-list Representative Eufemia Cullamat punished for the insults and transgressions she committed against the Manobo tribe where she belongs.
Datu Rico Maca, the IPMR of San Miguel town, said 50 tribal leaders from different towns expressed their outrage against Cullamat and wanted to make her accountable for her wrongdoings against the tribe.
“A number of tribal leaders wanted to show up and join the boney but we limited the attendance due to the strict health protocols in the province,” Maca told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Sunday night.
He emphasized that Cullamat committed three major offenses against the tribe -- misrepresentation, lack of concern for the IP youth and children, and dishonor against the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
Cullamat is no longer allowed to enter and step into the ancestral domains of the Manobo tribe in Surigao del Sur, Maca said.
“She is not a recognized leader of the Manobo tribe in Surigao del Sur. She does not represent us. For years, Cullamat has been advocating the doctrines and advancing the cause of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the National Democratic Front (NDF), and the New People’s Army (NPA),” Maca said.
The Bayan Muna solon, he added, refused to condemn NPA rebels for the killings of IP leaders in Surigao del Sur and has not introduced any development programs and projects to the IP communities in the province.
“Instead of providing support for the education of our children and youth for better future, Cullamat pushed for their radicalization through the CPP-NPA inspired teachings inside the TRIFPSS and ALCADEV,” Maca said.
TRIFPSS (Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur) and ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development) are alleged to be maintained by the CPP-NPA.
Maca said Cullamat is also culpable for maligning the NCIP, the agency which he said has supported IP communities.
He added that Cullamat also disrespected the agency and its chair, Secretary Allen Capuyan, after suggesting a one-peso budget during budget deliberations earlier this month.
“Cullamat is not aware how the NCIP is helping the IP communities in the country for years. The agency has facilitated livelihood projects, basic services, and scholarships for the IP youths. It’s the NCIP that stands with the IP communities. We are hurt with what Cullamat has done towards the agency,” Maca said.
The representation of IPs in different local legislative bodies, from the village level to the municipality and provincial levels are among the major accomplishments of the NCIP, he pointed out.
“Now, the voices of the IP communities are heard in the different legislative bodies through the IPMR. This is among the milestones of the NCIP as an agency working for us. Truly, the NCIP carries the voice of the IPs while Cullamat works for the interest of the CPP-NDF-NPA,” Maca said.
The activity was also graced by Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict where she is one of the spokespersons.
Badoy was joined by Surigao del Sur Governor Alexander Pimentel, who also serves as the chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council in the Caraga Region.
In a statement on Monday, Pimentel acknowledged that the government’s whole-of-nation approach implemented programs and projects in the province that benefited IPs.
Among the projects are the School of Living Tradition in Barangay Diatagon in the town of Lianga, the ongoing PHP20 million road concreting project, and the release of the PHP500,000 livelihood assistance from the provincial government.
He added that the tribal council in Surigao del Sur, through a resolution, already declared Cullamat as persona non grata for violating customs and traditions and misrepresenting IPs in the province.
The Philippines' Anti-Terrorism Council has designated the CPP, NPA, and NDF as terrorist groups.
The European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines also listed the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization. (PNA)