We have no links to any terrorist group.
So said two non-government organizations (NGOs) running two schools in the Philippines after Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur accused them of having connections with extremist organizations.
In a statement, senior officials of the Integrative Center for Alternative Development Foundation, Inc. (ICAD) and Pacific Dialogue Foundation, Inc. (PDF) said the local schools, Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School in Zamboanga City and Fountain International School in Metro Manila, are owned by these local foundations set up by private Filipino and Turkish citizens.
“At the outset, ICAD and PDF vehemently deny that [we] are terrorist organizations and that [we] participated in the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. We do not and have never had any links with any group involved in terror attacks,” the officials said.
“ICAD and PDF have never been involved in any criminal activities, much less terrorist activities in the Philippines or elsewhere. ICAD and PDF are also not affiliated with any terrorist organization,” they added.
The officials said the two local schools mentioned by the Turkish Ambassador offer a secular education under the Cambridge system.
While these schools do not teach religion, the officials said they accept students of all religious backgrounds as ICAD’s mandate is “to promote peace and understanding through education among people of diverse cultures.”
Both schools were founded in 1996.
On Saturday, Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano ordered an investigation into the activities of a Turkish group in the Philippines.
Cayetano said the DFA was verifying the alleged terror links of the Fethullah Gulen Movement in Zamboanga.
ICAD and PDF officials said Gulen had been outspoken in condemning the actions of terrorist organizations, having been one of the first prominent Muslims to condemn the 9/11 terror attack.
“Fethullah Gulen has been freely residing in the United States for over a decade and constantly reiterates that, ‘A terrorist cannot be a Muslim and a Muslim cannot be a terrorist’,” the officials said. Rogelio Nato, Jr., INQUIRER.net trainee
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