Malacañang on Saturday disputed reports that the influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is growing in Mindanao, insisting that the extremist group has not gotten the support of local groups in the south.
Citing information from the military, Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon 3rd said that there was no credible link between the ISIS and their local sympathizers in the country.
“Of course we stand by the statement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, through its spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla. According to General Padilla, there are no verified reports that local terrorist groups are getting support from the IS,” Quezon said in an interview aired over dzRB radio.
Quezon said no terrorist threats had been monitored so far despite claims by analysts that ISIS-inspired militants were on the offensive in Mindanao.
“This has not been established. There’s no direct relation between the group here and the bigger terror group Daesh out there in the Middle East,” he said.
“It is the job of the Armed Forces to determine these things. The Armed Forces has proven its capacity in the past and we believe that theirs is an accurate assessment,” he added.
The Palace official issued the statement three days after the assassination attempt on a visiting Saudi Arabian preacher reported to be in the ISIS hit list.
Rodolfo Mendoza, a senior analyst at the Manila-based Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, earlier said the influence of Islamic State is growing and its militants are escalating attacks in Mindanao.
“Their influence is growing stronger and it is expanding,” Mendoza said.
He added that various local groups that had pledged allegiance to IS were “planning big operations, like bombings, attacks or assassinations.”