The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is verifying information about the alleged presence of Turkish terrorists in the country, Malacañang said on Thursday.
This was after Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur was quoted by reports saying that the Fetullah Gulen Movement, a group accused by Turkey of being terrorists and instigating last year’s failed coup, has branched out to the Philippines.
“The military is verifying the statement of Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur regarding the presence of Turkish terrorists, particularly the Fetullah Gulen Movement, in the Philippines,” Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
The Palace official said the Philippine government would also look into the group’s alleged involvement in terrorist activities, either in aiding or abetting them.
“We will investigate organizations abetting or aiding terrorism and will hold them accountable, especially those that may be working as fronts for terrorist and criminal activities, as alleged by the Ambassador,” Abella said.
“We are also working closely with all other nations to combat terrorism. This is now a global threat that can be better addressed through a unified effort,” he added.
Ambassador Cankorur, in a television interview, said the Fetullah Gulen Movement, which has affiliates in 50 countries, including the Philippines, is “active” in the country through a school in Zamboanga, opened in 1997, and two other schools in Manila.
Their presence in the Philippines is “a bad thing,” she said, because it was a “terrorist group.”
“We consider Fetullah Gulen as a terrorist organization and any organization or persons linked or affiliated to that group is like sleeping cells,” Cankuror told ANC’s Headstart.
“I am not in a position to look into the future in that way, but knowing that thinking that that’s what they did in 15 July is a reminder of what they may be doing all around the country, around the world,” she added.
The Turkish ambassador’s statement comes amid the continuing offensives of government forces against Islamist fighters in Marawi City.
The firefights are into their second month, with at least more than 500 killed and more than 300,000 driven out of the city and nearby towns.