Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has confirmed on Monday that young Davaoeños are being recruited by terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
In his weekly program “Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa,” Duterte expressed concern for the young recruits. “I am concerned. I am not condemning anybody here. I feel sad for those who go there. They probably feel it’s alright…”
According to the mayor, Filipinos recruited by the group have already left the country in July.
Duterte’s confirmation supported the claim of former President Fidel V. Ramos who said in an earlier interview with ANC that at least 100 Filipinos are undergoing training with the terrorist group.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has refuted Ramos’ claim, saying that military intelligence has not monitored that Filipinos were training with ISIS.
Duterte, however, said the military is denying the report because “they aren’t sure if these Filipinos are already fighting overseas.” He added that “the only reports we’ve received said that there will be some sent there.”
“Dako man ko respeto basta prinsipyo na. (I have a lot of respect as long as it’s for principle.) I just hope dili ma generate into something bad for us here. They are driven by religious principles. Islam is a very good religion. I just hope that they are there to fight for religious purposes and not for hatred. I just hope that they are well there. Whatever it is, they are still Filipinos,” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, reports also surfaced that militant group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), has formed an alliance with ISIS.
“I’m a little concerned. I’m wondering what would be the dimensions. It’s a campaign of terror. But I just hope they will leave it that way there. They can come here and talk to me and have coffee,” Durerte said.
BIFF, however, denied that their men were sent to Iraq and Syria to train or fight alongside ISIS forces.