Palace verifying claims of Turkish terror group in PH

MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday said the government is verifying the claims made by the Turkish ambassador over the presence of a Turkish terror group in the Philippines.

“The military is verifying the statement of Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur regarding the presence of Turkish terrorists, particularly the Fetullah Gulen Movement, in the Philippines,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

The Palace official assured that the Philippine government does not tolerate any group found aiding terrorists and will hold them accountable.

“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,” he said.

“We are also working closely with all other nations to combat terrorism. This is now a global threat that can be better addressed through a unified effort,” Abella said.

Earlier, Cankorur said that the Fetullah Gulen Movement is “active” here through a school in Zamboanga, opened in 1997, and two other schools in Manila.

In a televised interview, the Turkish ambassador claimed that “the movement also has foundations on the cultural side.”

“This is their facade, thinking them as civic education institutions and innocent charity organizations. That will be a huge mischaracterization; that is wrong. They are the facade. They talk about inter-faith dialogue, but they are concealing themselves,” she said during the interview.

She said the group’s presence in the Philippines is “a bad thing” because it is a “terrorist group.”

“We consider Fetullah Gulen as a terrorist organization and any organization or persons linked or affiliated to that group is like sleeping cells,” she said.

The Turkish government has been blaming Gulen, a US-based cleric, and his followers, of orchestrating last July’s attempted coup to oust President Tayyip Erdogan.