An irked Vice President Sara Duterte did not mince words when she slammed former Bayan Muna Rep. Eufamia Cullamat over her remarks about her traditional Bagobo Tagabawa dress attire during the State of the Nation Address (SONA), alleging the Makabayan bloc of Congress, of which she is a member, to have ties with communist rebels.

Vice President Sara Duterte (left) and Makabayan lawmakers Raoul Manuel, France Castro, and Arlene Brosas (right) (Photos from Albay Rep. Joey Salceda and the Makabayan bloc)

The Makabayan bloc, for its part, called out Duterte’s “red-tagging and terror-tagging,” liking her to former president Rodrigo Duterte who “has dodged pressing concerns of the Filipino people.”

In a statement, the Vice President hit the Makabayan bloc for “desperately spinning things around as they scramble to make sense in a world that has already rendered them inconsequential.”

“Makabayan Bloc, with member partylist groups suffering the tragedy of losing during in the election last May — and 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 — 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 Bagobo Tagabawa dress I wore to the SONA,” she said.

“But make no mistake. Makabayan Bloc cannot be trusted. And no self-respecting Filipino should fall for its drama,” Duterte added.

This came after Cullamat criticized Duterte for wearing the traditional garb of the Lumad when she red-tagged the students and teachers of Lumad schools.

READ: VP Duterte in Bagobo dress a head-turner as Congress opens

But Duterte hit back by saying that the Lumad schools were shut down in 2019 because the Department of Education (DepEd) found that the schools failed to fill in the education gap for 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 added.

DepEd Region 11 shut down the private schools owned and operated by the Salugpongan Ta Tana Igkanogon Community Learning Center Inc. in 2019 because they allegedly did not comply with curriculum requirements, brought students away from their homes without their parents’ consent, and had unlicensed teachers.

But the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network condemned the closure of the schools and rejected the validity of the DepEd findings since the investigation was only based on the “false narratives” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its paramilitary troops.

Meanwhile, the Makabayan bloc condemned Duterte’s statement against Cullamat, saying that the Vice President should apologize to the Lumad community and Cullamat “for enabling the massacre and corporate plunder of Lumad communities and for ordering closure of 11 Salugpongan schools in Davao City.”
READ: Duterte defends tribal dress during SONA; says critic ‘should apologize’ to IPs instead
Duterte was Davao City mayor when the schools were shut down.

“We cannot let VP Duterte’s dangerous and callous tirades against Cullamat pass, nor condone her unconscionable demand for Cullamat to apologize to her fellow IPs and her daughter who was slain by the military,” the statement read.

As Education chief, the Makabayan bloc said Duterte should take note of Cullamat’s advocacy for fighting for the Lumad’s rights, especially for their right to education.

“Yet Duterte has not made any pronouncement over the continued closure of Lumad schools. That speaks volumes of the kind of “solidarity” with the IPs which she is prattling,” the statement pointed out.

Source: Manila Bulletin (