Turk terrorists in PH — envoy
THE Turkish ambassador to Manila said Wednesday a terrorist group that instigated last year’s failed coup in Turkey has branched out to the Philippines.
In an interview with the ANC news channel, Ambassador Esra Cankour said the Fetullah Gulen Movement is active in a school in Zamboanga, opened in 1997, and two other schools in Manila.
“This is their façade, thinking them as civic education institutions and innocent charity organizations. That will be a huge mischaracterization, that is wrong. They are the façade. They talk about inter-faith dialogue, but they are concealing themselves,” she said on ANC’s Headstart.
One of the leaders of the movement, Cihangir Arslan, denied the ambassador’s accusations.
“We strongly assail the accusation made by the ambassador against us, our group.
We’re not terrorists and we are here in the Philippines in goodwill,” Arslan told the Manila Standard in a phone interview.
Arslan said the accusations amounted to political persecution by the Turkish government against their movement.
“We’re not terrorists. Our group was and will strongly oppose this treatment by our own government against us just because we’re vocal in condemning the totalitarian system of the Turkish government and rampant corruption,” Arslan said.
The Turkish government blames 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, Cankour said.
The group’s presence in the Philippines is “a bad thing,” she said, because it is a terrorist group.
“We consider Fetullah Gulen as a terrorist organization,” she said.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military is verifying the group’s alleged presence in the country.
Also on Wednesday, police released three members of the Maute clan who were intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport because they had no evidence linking them to the Marawi rebellion.
Senior Supt Wilson Asueta, the CIDG director identified the three individuals as Ashary Maute, Yasser Maute and Al Nazir Maute, who along with four others were off-loaded from a Malaysian bound aircraft last Monday.
“They [CIDG] found no reasonable ground to hold them further. They were not able to prove that these Mautes are part of the Maute group that staged the rebellion in Marawi,” said PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa said.
However, Abdulrahman Maute was arrested and taken into police custody on the basis of an Arrest order No. 2 issued by the secretary of Defense and Martial Law Administrator Delfin Lorenzana.
At least 11 people, including Maute Matriarch, Ominta Romato Farhana and former Marawi City mayor Fahad Salic have been filed rebellion charges for their alleged complicity in the Marawi siege.
Farhana Maute was charged before the Misamis Oriental Regional Trial Court in Cagayan de Oro City days after she was arrested in Masiu, Lanao del Sur.
The nine others charged for rebellion were Sumaya Bangkit Masakal, Radiea Tugosa Asire, Mariam Ibnu Abubakar, Zafeerah Rosales Musa, Nehreen Macaraya Abdul, Nora Moctar Limgas, Mardiyya Haji Ali, Sumayya Lawi Ali, and Noronisa Haji Camal.
All those facing rebellion charges have been transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa Detention center in Taguig City.
A Catholic bishop, meanwhile, expressed concern on the safety of Fr. Teresito Soganub and several other Christians being held hostages by Maute rebels in Marawi City.
Marawi Bishop Edwin Angot dela Peña said Soganub was kidnapped by the ISIS-inspired Maute terror group along with at least 10 others on May 23, when clashes between government troops and members of the Maute Group erupted in Marawi. The fate of the hostages was still unknown. With Francisco Tuyay and Vito Barcelo