An apology that is not an apology at all. This is how we see the contradicting statements from the resigned Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) spokesman Colonel Eduardo Gubat.

Gubat may have apologized for misquoting United Nations Special Rapporteur for internally displaced persons Dr. Chaloka Beyani in describing the Manobo evacuees as trafficked persons, but he still pointed out that they maintains their self-serving belief that “Dr. Beyani in his exit briefing described that the Indigenous People in Haran are manipulated”.

Such insistence of the EMC is in complete disregard of Dr Beyani Chaloka’s latest statement which pointed out that, “The indigenous peoples whom I interviewed informed me that they relocated to this facility freely and in response to the militarization of their lands and territories and forced recruitment into paramilitary groups operating under the auspices of the AFP. My reference to their being ‘manipulated’ related to the attempt to forcibly move them out of the UCCP facility without proper and adequate consultation with them.”

He said further that, “I therefore consider that the AFP statement by the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) in its news release of 7 August that the lumads (Indigenous People) in Davao City are victims of human trafficking is incorrect, unacceptable, and represents a gross distortion of my views on this issue.”

The AFP’s insistence then makes their apology insincere. We are outraged but at the same time loathing at their desperation and deception. They try to force their own ‘truth’ that we are being ‘trafficked’ and ‘imprisoned’. They are filing fabricated cases of kidnapping, trafficking and serious illegal detention on lumad supporters. But in truth, they are the real reasons why we are displaced from our communities in Talaingod and Kapalong since April with their continuing militarization and forced recruitment for the paramilitary group Alamara.

In truth, we reiterate that UCCP Haran is our ‘Ilihan’ or refuge camp. It is a place that has served as our sanctuary since 1994 until now.

Thus, we want the AFP particularly the Eastmincom to stop spreading their vicious lies. And we urge the other Eastmincom officials particularly Colonel Jake Obligado to also resign and apologize to the Manobo evacuees for using the said ‘distorted and misrepresented statement’ in his presentation during the privilege hour at the Sangguniang Panlungsod. We challenge all of the AFP leadership for making this huge diplomatic blunder and stop perpetrating lies and deceptions through public statements and fabricated videos.

Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao, Salugpongan ta’ Tanu Ig Kanogon and Karadyawan remain firm in our position and will fight against these lies in order o affirm our call that we will remain in this ilihan that is UCCP Haran until militarization is driven away in our communities.

Until this is not resolved, we strongly affirm our position of staying in UCCP Haran unless the AFP pulls out its troops from our communities, houses and schools and we will be assured of our security.

Kerlan Fanagel \ Chairperson, PASAKA-SMR

Datu Doloman Dawsay \ Chair, Salugpongan

Datu Mintroso Malibato \ Chair, Karadyawan

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