TURKISH SCHOOLS IN PHILIPPINES FEAR “TERRORIST” TAG
Officials of the Turkish institutions linked by Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur denied their involvement to any terrorist groups and activities and appealed for their institutions to be cleared for the sake of their students.
“Once and for all, we would like to clear. We are not.Definitely not terrorists…Those are things we have nothing to do about. We are just an institution that is negatively dragged in this issue,”Dr. Krizelle Moon-Kilicaslan, President of Integrative Center for Alternative Development Foundation, Inc.(ICAD) said during the school’s joint press conference on Tuesday with Pacific Dialogue Foundation, Inc.(PDF).
The two Turkish schools Fountain International Schools in San Juan City and Tolerance School in Zamboanga City, which are being run by ICAD and PDF, were earlier linked by Cankorur to the Turkish terror group called Fethullah Gulen Movement. Both institutions denied their involvement in a coup attempt in Turkey in 2016.
On the moral issue,Dr, Bora Aslan, ICAD Director, said this is affecting the children. “In no war. no conclict, we want the children to really be protected. You know. We already said that just imagine the children are also seeing this news. We were putting that. You know the conscience of the Filipino people will prevail and correct this matter…As we have said this is really political and we do not want to talk about these things. But as educators, we are of course, we are worried about the perception that children might have in the long run,”Aslan said.
Haron Ali, Secretary General of Imam Council of the Philippines, Inc. said a meeting with Imams in central Luzon, that they had personally observed that the schools teached what was right, inculcating upon their students love and harmony among the Filipino people. “They actually engage in humanitarian services not only to the Filipino muslims but also to non-muslims,” Ali said
He claimed that these groups are friendly sponsors feeding program to the poor as well as to the people who are observing fasting….distributing houses not only to the muslims but also to non-muslims in the Philippines,”he said.
“They promote love, harmony, and compassion in every citizens of this country and also foreigners. .We witnessed that they are not involved with any illegal activities,”Ali added.
Dr. Cihanger Arslan, President of PDF, said their institution had been in the country for almost 20 years, professionally working to promote peace, understanding, and acceptance. ”What you see is what you get”, he said.
He said their institutions were open to any investigation.
“We had been checked by all government organizations regularly. And I think they wanted us to give clearance regarding this issue. So we do not know why this accusations are thrown to us,”Arslan said.
Aslan for his part, stressed that they do not want to talk about politics. “These are political issues…… Our action speaks for themselves. These activities has been going on for twenty years…We do not want to be indulging in this kind of talks because we are educators,”Aslan explained.
“Almost twenty years if we have a hidden agenda. I think there will be something until today. So the terrorists would not be patiently waiting for twenty years,” Arslan said.
Emmanuel Varona ,ICAD faculty, said once the news about this controversy came out, none of their students came out to ask about the allegations. However, he said, the parents were worried. He said they assured their parents that once the name of the school is cleared, everything would go back to normal.
“This is not just a national issue. This is an international issue all over the world. We have always been cleared by all government institutions. As far as we are concerned in terms of legality, in terms of permits and accreditation, we are clear. We just want to live normally,”Kilicaslan said.
She stressed that they are educators and they are not used to these kind of things. Give us a curriculum , give us students to teach, we will come up with lesson plans. But these things we are not very much used to.So other than we want our school and our foundation to be cleared,”Kilicaslan stressed.
Father Carlos Reyes,Executive Secretary of Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said the government should focus more on what these groups had been doing.
“As far as I know, they have not committed any act of terrorism.I have experienced very positive activities coming from them.For the past ten years or so. They are educators. They are not just educators,”he said.
Personally,Father Reyes stressed he needs them in his job, especially in promoting peace and understanding between Christians and Muslims.
“I’d had parents who are very positive in their estimation of their quality of education that they children have received,”Father Reyes said.
“I had been with them. They are not terrorists. I woudl k now a terrorist when I see one. They are not terrorists. As to the motivation of the Honorable Ambassador as to this accusation, I think it’s not for us to speculate…But let the evidence speak for itself. With all my experience of kindness, friendship from them. I trust them,” Reyes said.
Arslan said they had already been investigated by the police and intelligence agencies, and even the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) have cleared them.
Kilicaslan said all they wanted at this time just to be cleared from these allegations linking them to terrorist groups and activities.
“The message we are trying to do here is. Investigations have been done previously, and we had been cleared,”Kilicaslan said.
“We are not terrorists, we do not have a facade.We just want to emphasize on three things.Number one, provide education;number two, we give charity, and number three, we want to promote universal peace and cultural understanding. Nothing more , nothing less,”she said.
“Look at the picture now….you know killing each other is horrible…as much as possible the muslims and Christians in organization can work together to bring peace to the Philippines and to the world,”Arslan said.(LUISA GARCIA/PNA)