Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri rebuffed reports Tuesday the existence of jihadist training camps in Mindanao.
In a press briefing held at Camp Aguinaldo, Iriberri said the military has not received reports that such training camps exist.
“We have not received any report pertaining to the existence of four jihadist camps as mentioned in one of the dailies,” the AFP chief said.
According to news reports, said camps are located in Cararao in Lanao province, Sarangani province, Barangay Tanum in Patikul, Sulu, and Palembang in Sultan Kudarat.
Last Thursday, eight members of the Ansarul Khilafah in the Philippines (AKP), including Indonesian national Sucipto Ibrahim Ali, were killed in a skirmish with government troops in Palembang, Sultan Kudarat.
Iriberri confirmed that the slain Indonesian had links to Jemaah Islamiyah and was an original member of the Eastern Indonesian Mujahidin (MIT).
The clash took place as the police were about to serve a warrant of arrest against AKP leader Muhammad Jaafar Maguid, alias “Tokboy,” who was an associate of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”
Iriberri, however, maintained that the country has not been infiltrated by ISIS militants, noting that the AKP is nothing more than a criminal group wanting to associate itself with the ISIS.
“Based on our assessment, they are not a group na sinasabi nilang ISIS sila. They want to be associated with the ISIS but another report that we got is that itong group na ito ay purely criminal group who are engaged in extortion activities in cattle rustling and robbery,” he said.