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Gov’t probes presence of Turkish militants in PH

By: Genalyn D. Kabi-ling and Francis T. Wakefield

In the wake of the reported presence of Turkish militants in the country, the government has vowed to run after groups abetting terrorists and work with other nations in fighting the global threat.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said authorities have yet to confirm the suspected presence of the Fethullah Gulen Movement in the country but will hold accountable groups in collusion with the terror suspects.

“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,” Abella said.

“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 added.

The government recognized the significance of international cooperation in eliminating the threat of terrorism.

“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.

Armed Forces of the Philippines-Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said that they are validating the claim of Cankorur.

“We have to validate that information before we can comment on it,” Arevalo said.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that he still has to check the information. “Hindi ko pa alam ito,” Padilla said.

Cankorur recently warned that the Gulen terror movement has reached local shores. She said the group has been using schools and other charity groups as front organizations.

The movement, named after US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, has been blamed for the deadly coup attempt against the alleged authoritarian government of Turkey last year.

The rebels took over government tanks and jets, bombed government buildings, and attempted to oust Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. More than 200 people were killed in the violence as the government tried to end the mutiny.

Erdogan has branded Gulen’s movement as a terrorist group and promised to pursue its members accused of trying to overthrow the government.