Malacañang on Monday said the government is yet to receive confirmed intelligence reports that Filipinos are training with militants in Iraq.
Citing information from the military, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has not validated Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had recruited Filipinos.
“We treat information only accurate if validated, and so far, there are no reports nor names of Filipinos who are in the Middle East fighting for ISIS,” Lacierda quoted AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala as saying.
He added that the AFP “[would]coordinate if need be with Mayor Duterte” so that the information on ISIS recruitment could be “processed and validated.”
In a television report, Duterte said Filipinos who were recruited by ISIS left the country in July.
Duterte’s statement reinforced the claim of former President Fidel V. Ramos who recently said in a TV interview that about 100 young Filipinos are training with the terrorist group.
The AFP, however, dismissed Ramos’ claim, citing a military intelligence report that revealed that no Filipino rebels were seen training with ISIS.
On Friday, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), a militant Muslim organization, said it has formed an alliance with ISIS but denied that they have sent men to Iraq and Syria to train or fight alongside with ISIS forces.
ISIS is said to have emanated from the al-Qaeda in Iraq.