THE latest about this issue is that Malacañang has debunked the statements made by former president Fidel V. Ramos that, per his sources, some 100 Filipinos have joined the extreme jihadist Islamic State (IS) that has established a caliphate in Iraq.
Mr. Ramos in a television interview said that men of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a break-away army from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, have gone to Iraq to undergo training and will return to the Philippines and wreak havoc and destruction.
The Palace says what Mr. Ramos has is unverified information.
So, what then, ignore it?
On Wednesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gave the assurance that the IS group does not pose any threat to our country.
Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief, said that the group that has wreaked havoc in Iraq and Syria does not have any connections to the Philippines.
“There is none, they don’t have a capability here,” Zagala said. “We have not monitored any instances where they have come here in the country.”
Zagala, however, said also that even with the absence of the threat from IS, the AFP continues to monitor the latest developments.
He said that the military intelligence community has not monitored any Filipino leaving the country to train with the Islamic State (IS).
“There are no reports of such. I’ve already checked with the intelligence units of the AFP and we have not monitored, not even names of Filipinos who are there fighting (or training). There is none,” Zagala told reporters.
The 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army also said they have not received such information so far. Major Christian Uy, spokesperson of the division, said (as quoted by ABS-CBN News), “Wala pa naman tayong nare-receive na report on that in our end, and titingnan din natin yan if there’s a possibility na meron dito sa area of responsibility. However, sa ngayon ay wala.”
Earlier, the AFP, French wire service, reported that hardline Moro guerrillas have pledged allegiance to IS. Video clips have been uploaded on YouTube showing BIFF and Abu Sayyaf warriors pledging support to the IS Caliphate. These are the videos the Philippine military says are “mere propaganda materials.”
We hope this is a positive contribution of “Noynoying” —being lackadaisical—to the Armed Forces of the Philippines: “Noynoying” makes our AFP officers serene.
In Malaysia, however, as reported by Agence France-Presse, the authorities have arrested people on their way to the Middle East to enlist and train with the IS Caliphate’s forces in Iraq.
AFP said police in Malaysia have foiled plans for a wave of bombings drawn up by radical Islamic militants inspired by the IS. AFP’s source is Malaysia’s deputy chief of the police counterterrorism division, Ayob Khan Mydin.
The 19 suspected militants arrested from April to June were formulating plans to bomb pubs, discos and a Malaysian brewery of Danish beer producer Carlsberg, AFP quoted Ayob Khan as saying.
AFP said Ayob Khan told its reporter “that the group, all Malaysians, had visions of establishing a hard-line Southeast Asian Islamic caliphate spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore, and planned to travel to Syria to learn from Isis.
The plotters included professionals and two housewives.”
Because the Aquino administration has been caught telling so many lies and sleeping on the job— “Noynoying”—critics would rather believe President Ramos and the Agence France-Presse than the government military spokesmen.
We would rather pray that Lt. Col. Zagala and Major Uy are cleverly pretending not to know but are setting traps for the men of the IS Caliphate operating in Mindanao.