EDITORIAL - The dead should not be treated as trophies

EDITORIAL - The dead should not be treated as trophies

(The Freeman) - December 2, 2020 - 12:00am

By now you might have heard that Jevilyn Cullamat, the daughter of Bayan Muna partylist Representative Eufemia Cullamat, was killed in an encounter between communist New People’s Army rebels and government troops last weekend in Surigao del Sur.

Jevilyn, who allegedly served as a medic for the rebels, was the only one killed in that encounter. After her death, photos of her body were posted in social media.

The act has drawn the ire of Representative Cullamat and her camp who have demanded that the photos be taken down.

“She is not a thing, she is not a trophy to be paraded for military propaganda. You did not respect the dead, you are also disrespecting our family’s grief,” Representative Cullamat is reported as saying in a Philstar.com report.

There are several issues that arise from that incident. Others will dwell on the fact that the representative and the rebel medic are related and immediately conclude that because the rebel medic was fighting for the communist cause then the representative must also be fighting to advance the same purpose. This is a good argument, but it isn’t necessarily true.

However, we would like to focus on another issue; how the soldiers treated the dead body of the slain rebel medic.

Not too long ago a video of Islamic militants looting, desecrating, and eventually beheading the body of a government soldier killed in an encounter was circulated in social media. Naturally it drew wide condemnation.

This is to be understood coming from terrorists who do not consider themselves bound to the law of the land. Since terrorists also want to rack up the likes, they want to make their material as shocking as possible. However, government soldiers, who essentially represent the government even if their role is that of enforcement, are expected to behave differently.

While it is true that there is no law that penalizes displaying the corpses of enemies of the state killed in a legitimate encounter, human decency should have at least been taken into consideration during that occasion.

We won’t even bring up the fact that this was a woman because, whether male or female, the mortal remains of anyone deserve a certain treatment different from that of mere objects.

Yes, the weapons, documents, and other items seized after an encounter can be displayed, flaunted even. There is no issue there. However, bodies must be treated differently and with respect.

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