Pinoys training with Iraq jihadists?
MANILA (UPDATED) - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) said they have not monitored Filipinos going to Iraq or Syria supposedly to undergo training with jihadists.
Former President Fidel Ramos, in an interview on ANC's "Beyond Politics" on Tuesday night, said he has received reports that around 100 young Filipinos "have already infiltrated Iraq to undergo training to return and be jihadists or militants."
According to AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, the military intelligence community has not monitored any Filipino leaving the country to train with the Islamic State (IS), a group of jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
"There are no reports of such. I've already checked with the intelligence units of the AFP and we have not monitored, not even names of Filipinos who are there fighting (or training). There is none," Zagala told reporters.
The 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army also said they have not received such information so far.
"Wala pa naman tayong nare-receive na report on that in our end, and titingnan din natin yan if there's a possibility na meron dito sa area of responsibility. However, sa ngayon ay wala," said Maj. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division.
PNP-Caraga spokesperson Supt. Romaldo Bayting also said they have yet to verify the information revealed by Ramos.
"I just recently coordinated with regional intelligence division, and they emphasized that this information remain unverified. We don't have any intelligence report or directives from headquarters to tackling this report," he said.
But Bayting nonetheless said that the police force will intensify security measures.
Zagala said they respect the opinion and views of the former President. "And maybe, we can coordinate with him on the possibility of where his information came from," he added.
In the ANC interview, Ramos said the Abu Sayyaf has been encouraged by the "success" of the Islamic State (IS), formerly known known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
An Agence France-Presse report earlier said hardline Moro guerrillas have pledged allegiance to IS.
Clips have been uploaded on YouTube showing both BIFF and Abu Sayyaf gunmen pledging support to the IS.
But the AFP said these videos are "mere propaganda materials and that they (IS) are not threats here."
"It's possible that they (Abu Sayyaf and BIFF) want to show their support and (generate) possible funding but them going there (Syria and Iraq), there are no reports that any of them have really gone to fight with IS," Zagala said. -- With report from May Diez, ABS-CBN News Caraga