DFA holds own probe of Turkish ‘terrorists’

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Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Saturday ordered a separate investigation into an alleged Turkish terrorist group that has branched out in the Philippines since 1997 .

Cayetano said he was tapping all concerned agencies, the Bureau of Immigration and Bureau of Customs, to strictly enforce the law and rules on foreign individuals and businessmen coming to the country.

“First of all, let me thank the people of Turkey and the ambassador for their concern for the Philippines,” Cayetano said.  “We are doing our own investigation together with other agencies that have the capability of doing that.”  

He said that  the DFA is doing its own investigation in verifying the  alleged  terror links of Fetullah Gulen Movement in Zamboanga.

“While the DFA coordinates and does its own investigation, we also of course make full use of the military and police and the national security intelligence apparatus,” Cayetano said.

Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankour said the Fetullah Gulen Movement is active in a school in Zamboanga, opened in 1997, and two other schools in Manila.

The Turkish government blamed  Gulen, a US-based cleric, and his followers, for orchestrating last July’s attempted coup, in which rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets, bombed parliament and tried to abduct or kill President Tayyip Erdogan.

More than 250 people died and 2,000 more were injured during the failed coup, Cankour said.

Fetullah’s  presence in the Philippines is “a bad thing,” she said, because it is a terrorist group.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano

“We consider Fetullah Gulen as a terrorist organization,” the Turkish envoy said.

Cayetano said that they are “taking the matter seriously” but could not consider the Fetullah  right away as terrorist group unless there is a hard evidence that would prove them otherwise.

He said that there are processes  about that but the government is now  looking into the matter.

He lamented that the Philippines is  dealing two kind of terrorists: one, is the terrorist fighters; and the other are individuals, businessmen who are funding or bringing in money to support the local  terrorists.

“But I know that the Ambassador of Turkey will understand, that we have to do our own   investigation. Any countries that gives us such information, we’re very thankful but  we need to do our own investigation regarding that,” he added.

He said that the DFA and other concerned agencies will start to focus on individuals who came in to bring money or train the Filipino recruits to become a terrorist. 

President Rodrigo Duterte expressed gratitude for the assistance provided by the country’s foreign partners to help quell Islamic State-inspired groups in Marawi City.  

Speaking before Filipino-American diplomats on late Friday night, Duterte said he welcomes the assistance given by the country’s traditional Western ally, the United States despite the Americans  criticizing his bloody war on illegal drugs.

He likewise recognized the support that he said was given by new allies Russia and China.

“Let us give where credit is due. The United States helped the Armed Forces in this fight and China committed and delivered a lot of firearms for us,” Duterte said  during the 11th Ambassadors’ Tour Philippine reception in Davao City.

“You have to make friends, and there is a need for you to acquire the kind of firearms, with no strings attached.

Duterte added that Russian President Vladimir Putin also pledged aid.

Washington provided the military with technical support to the troops on the ground while Beijing provided arms and ammunition worth P370 million.

Australia likewise sent spy planes to conduct surveillance on jihadists.

Keeping his tough talk against the United States, Duterte, however, warned Washington not to speak critical against his bloody drug war, which saw thousands dead since he took office. 

“If I have committed a wrong before your eyes, your estimation, that is your problem. I have my problems to solve,” he said.

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