MANILA – The military on Wednesday allayed fears that the Islamic State has infiltrated the Philippines after extremists pledging allegiance to the international terror group clashed with state forces in the southern city of Marawi.
“Categorically, we are saying na we do not have ISIS in the Philippines,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Colonel Edgard Arevalo told reporters
The skirmishes in Marawi erupted Tuesday after about a dozen Maute and Abu Sayyaf fighters torched several buildings and raised alleged black ISIS flags.
The local terrorists, Arevalo said, were using the incident to gain recognition from ISIS.
” These so called groups who are posing to be ISIS, they are merely courting the acclamation of ISIS na hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin nila nakukuha (which they have yet to gain),” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in Mindanao, allowing state forces to conduct warrantless arrests and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.