Enrile warns of rise of extremist groups in the Philippines
MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile on Tuesday warned of the rise of extremist groups in the country following the Jolo, Sulu cathedral bombing.
Enrile said that the public should monitor the movements of the Maute group in Mindanao and other groups connected with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“Saan ba nangagaling mga sundalo niyan? Saan ba nangagaling mga tauhan niyan? Nanggagaling din sa mga eskuwelahan sa Mindanao. Nanggagaling dun sa mga madrasah,” Enrile said in a statement, referring to Islamic religious schools.
(Where do they get their members and soldiers? From schools in Mindanao, from the madrasahs.)
According to Enrile,who also served as defense minister under the Marcos administration, these Islamic religious schools have become the “intellectual factory” of ISIS.
“Sino ba ang sumusuporta ng mga madrasah? Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the practitioner of the most purist of all Islamic groups in the Middle East – Wahabism or Salafism,” he added.
Wahabism, the “extremist interpretation” of Islam, has been linked to global terrorist movements stemming from countries whose madrasahs have been sponsored by certain countries.
Enrile also said that the Ilaga problem in Mindanao still persists.
Ilaga is a Christian extremist paramilitary group that orchestrated massacres and other violent acts in Mindanao in the 1970s.
“I’ve handled it for 17 years. We have studied the reactions of the Christians especially the Ilonggos and the Ilocanos of Mindanao. You remember the Ilaga problem that we had in Mindanao? Don’t ever think that that is dead,” he noted.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier said that it is looking into the involvement of the Abu Sayyaf in the deadly explosions in Jolo that killed more than 20 people and wounded at least 100 others. / gsg
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