MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is standing by its statement that the over 700 lumads currently staying at the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) in Haran, Davao City are "trafficked" and being held against their will.
This assertion comes a day after the spokesperson of the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur for Internally Displaced Peoples accused the AFP of "gross misrepresentation" of their statements after Special Rapporteur Cheloka Beyani visited the site.
"That is how we look at the thing. We have our interpretation, they have theirs. Nasabi na ito ng EastMinCom (Eastern Mindanao Command), and it will stay as is," said AFP public affairs chief Col. Noel Detoyato.
Detoyato said the AFP will neither change their statements nor apologize to the UN Special Rapporteur.
When asked what Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc's "special mission" was in the lumad situation, Detoyato said Cabunoc was sent there because he was familiar with the area and could speak the language.
Cabunoc has taken to social media defending the AFP's stance that the lumads were not "evacuees" but veritable hostages by members and supporters of the New People's Army (NPA).
All of Cabunoc's pronouncements, Detoyato said, can be considered official statements of the AFP.