Fetullah Gulen Movement declared as terrorist organization by Turkey
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
A terrorist group from Turkey is operating schools in the Philippines, according to Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur.
Cankorur said the Fetullah Gulen Movement runs a school in Zamboanga City and two others in Manila.
Malacañang on Thursday said the government is verifying the claims made by the Turkish ambassador over the presence of the Turkish terror group in the Philippines, according to state-owned Philippine News Agency (PNA)’.
The Gulen movement was classified as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government in 2015.
The Turkish government blames the movement for the 2016 failed coup attempt against President Recept Tayyip Erdogan.
Like the Middle East-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS), considered as today’s most violent terrorist organization, the Gulen Movement has also been accused of having global, apocalyptic ambition to establish strongholds all over the world.
ISIS aims to establish a “global Islamic state” and has linked up with local terrorist groups in the Philippines like the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group. The terrorist attack and occupation of Marawi City on May 22 was reportedly a prelude to creating Mindanao as a caliphate of the ISIS.
Founded by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, the Gulen Movement is known as an Islamic transnational religious and social movement.
Gulen is now based in the United States.
The movement has attracted supporters in Turkey, Central Asia, and other parts of the world. It is active in education with private schools and universities in over 180 countries.
The revelation of Cankorur that the Gulen Movement runs schools in the Philippines is an affirmation of this mission by the Turkish terror group to export its influence in foreign shores.
The Gulen Movement has substantial investments in media, finance, and for-profit health clinics.
Before being outlawed as a terrorist organization, the Gulen Movement has strong influence in Turkish politics, the judiciary, military and police, and business.
Despite its teachings that are considered conservative even in Turkey, some have praised the movement as a pacifist, modern-oriented version of Islam, and as an alternative to more extreme schools of Islam.
But like the ISIS, the movement has also been accused of having “global, apocalyptic ambition.”
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement said “the military is verifying the statement of Cankorur regarding the presence of Turkish terrorists, particularly the Fetullah Gulen Movement, in the Philippines,” according to PNA.
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.”
Malacañang on Monday, July 10, stressed that the decision to extend martial law rests on President Rodrigo Duterte and not on House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
“Extending martial law is the decision of the President which PRRD said would rest on the assessment and the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other stakeholders of the Marawi situation,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
A veteran legislator has also chided Alvarez for encroaching into the powers of President Duterte by pushing for the extension of Martial Law to 2022.
Abella’s statement and and the reaction of Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman followed remarks by Alvarez who said that he would push for a five-year extension of martial law.
“If I can convince my colleagues, I will push for an extension until 2022, because two months is too short. Five months or one year or two years is too short,” Alvarez said.
Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 declaraing Martial Law in Mindanao on May 23 after terrorist groups attacked and occupied Marawi City in Lanao del Sur in western Mindanao..
Alvarez (1st District, Davao del Norte), said on Saturday, July 9, that he would “push for an extension” of martial law up to 2022, at the end of President’s term.
Alvarez made the statement ahead of July 22, when the 60-day constitutional limit of the proclamation expires.
To Lagman, Alvarez, with his statement, was acting presidential, encroached into the powers of the President and preempted the decision of Duterte on whether or not to extend Martial Law.
Lagman said only the President, not Alvarez or other legislators, can “nitiate” the extension of Martial Law in Mndanao.
The Constitution requires that the President may initiate extension of the proclamation to be approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives in a joint session.
“Why are some senators and representatives talking about extending martial law in Mindanao when the President has not even officially initiated such extension?” said Lagman.
“Under the Constitution, while an extension needs the concurrence of the absolute majority of the members of the Congress voting in joint session, any such extension shall be upon the initiative of the President,” he added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is already finalizing its recommendations on the possible extension or lifting of martial law.
“It’s already being done and in a few days it will be submitted to the (Executive) Secretary for his consideration because he is the administrator of martial law. And that recommendation will make its way up to the Commander-in-Chief who will be provided an advance copy,” AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Resituto Padilla Jr. said during the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang.
He said that the final assessment would be based on whether the rule of law as well as peace and security in most parts of Mindanao had been reestablished.
The AFP official likewise stressed however that whatever recommendations the military submit, the final decision is up to President Duterte.
“The Department of National Defense or the AFP could only recommend, pero ang eventual decision ay kinakailangang manggaling sa political leadership na merong mas malawak na pinag-iisipang o pinagbabatayan ng kanilang desisyon,” Padilla said. (Source: PNA, Rappler)
Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella on Sunday clarified the “assistance” being provided by United States in the ongoing operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Marawi as only “limited to technical assistance”.
“We have standing protocols which are already in place under the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board with the US under the purview of the PHL-US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. It does not involve any boots on the ground nor is there any direct participation in combat operations, a matter prohibited by law,” Abella said.
The fight against terrorism, he said, is not only the concern of the Philippines or the United States but it is a concern of many nations around the world.
“The Philippines is open to assistance from other countries if they offer it,” he added.
Still on Marawi, Abella said the Palace was deeply saddened by the news on the 13 Marines killed in action during a firefight in Marawi City.
“This incident, albeit unfortunate, gives us greater impetus to clear Marawi of lawless elements, save the trapped civilians, and restore order, security and normalcy to the city and its residents,” he stressed.
He went on to enjoin every one to continue showing strong support to our “courageous and heroic men and women in uniform fighting for Marawi and defending the Republic”. (PNA)
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