PRESIDENT Beningo Aquino 3rd on Wednesday maintained that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has no presence in the country and that the armed group that attacked a military detachment last week was only composed of “mercenaries.”
The President noted that the so-called Maute group was just making its presence felt in order for them to attract attention from ISIS supporters from the Middle East.
“They harassed one detachment and a detachment by definition is small. So, again, ginawa iyon tawag pansin with the expectation, based on the opinion of our intel community, of gathering funds from the Middle East. Kumbaga nagpapakitang-gilas (In other words, they are showing off) ,” said Aquino.
“Is it ideological or religious? They will say it is, but, primarily, we believe it is by mercenary reasons that are prompting them to do this,” he stressed.
Malacañang and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have downplayed claims by members of the armed group that they were ISIS despite the fact that insignias and documents showing their allegiance to the group were recovered from their hideout.
Aquino also said that another group of insurgents was “consigned to putting up the black flag and drive to call attention to themselves.”
“At the end of the day, our AFP will deal with them,” the President added.
Aquino explained that the new group proclaiming to be ISIS in Mindanao is practically what remains of the once dreaded Jemaah Islamiyah, which had links to the Al-Qaeda.
Over time, the JI had substantially weakened and its former members are trying to salvage what is left of the group.
“They (JI) are trying to restart. Balik itong grupong ito na dating Al Qaeda na ngayon sumasapi doon sa IS. So patunay lang yata ‘nung sinasabi namin na kung sino ang mukhang may resources doon sila, not for ideological, not religious, more mercenary reasons,” Aquino pointed out.