Turkish group probed
Palace: Fetullah Gulen a terror front?
MALACAÑANG on Thursday vowed to hold accountable organizations abetting terrorism amid accusations from the Turkish ambassador to the Philippines that a terrorist organization that instigated last year’s failed coup in Turkey has branched out to the Philippines.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the military is verifying the statement of Turkish Ambassador to Manila Ester Cankour that Turkish terrorists, particularly the Fetullah Gulen Movement, is already in the Philippines.
“We will investigate organizations abetting or aiding terrorism and will hold them accountable, especially those that may be working as fronts for terrorist and criminal activities, as alleged by the ambassador,” Abella said.
He added that Manila is “working closely with all other nations to combat terrorism,” which is now “a global threat that can be better addressed through a unified effort.”
On Wednesday, Cankour claimed that the Fetullah Gulen Movement led by a US-based cleric, has found its way through 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, adding that the group’s presence in the Philippines is “a bad thing” because it is a terrorist group.
But 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.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Robispierre Bolivar said the government would look into the ambassador’s warning.
“We take seriously allegations of the presence of terrorists in our country and we have been looking into the matter,” he added.