MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is still in the process of validating statements made by former President Fidel V. Ramos and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that Muslim youth from Mindanao have been recruited and are now undergoing training overseas under the terrorist group Islamic State.
But Major General Domingo Tutaan, AFP spokesperson, said they are not denying, dismissing, nor confirming the reports yet.
“CSAFP Gen Gregoria Pio Catapang Jr has already directed the troops on the ground in Mindanao and Davao City to include our intelligence committee to look into this,” he said.
Tutaan said the AFP is wary of causing undue panic, and would like to assess all pieces of information currently in their possession.
IS is formerly known as ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Tutaan said the Eastern Mindanao Command, led by Lt. Col. Rainier Cruz, has been contacting Duterte in Davao to hear him out.
The AFP said it is not putting a timeframe on the intelligence validation, as it is a fluid process.
For now, Tutaan regards the threat of ISIS "outside of the country."
“The ISIS is there, out of the country. The conflict is out there in other parts of the world. It's not within us. Would there be an effect in our security… that is part of the assessment,” Tutaan added.
Last July, an Australian radical Islamist preacher named Musa Cerantonio was arrested in the Philippines, after having claimed that he was in Syria to join ISIS.
Cerantonio has been a vocal supporter of the ISIS on social media, and has constantly called on followers to wage jihad against the west.