Bishop asks gov’t to check reports ISIS recruited Filipino fighters
MANILA, Philippines—A Catholic prelate has expressed concern over reports that several Filipinos from Davao City were recruited by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“There is reason to be worried and the possibility is real,” said Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte earlier confirmed that several city residents were recruited and left the country in July.
Without giving details, Duterte said he respected the decision of those who joined the fighting in Iraq and Syria.
Duterte’s statement supports the information of former President Fidel Ramos that around 100 Filipino Moros infiltrated Iraq to train as militants.
However, Duterte’s claim was denied by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), saying there was no active recruitment of fighters to be sent to Iraq and Syria.
“I hope the government could monitor the Filipinos who are there. I’m really worried,” said Jumoad. “I hope our Muslim leaders will do something to neutralize this.”
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, meanwhile, said the time has come for the Philippine government to speak out against the persecution of religious minorities in Iraq, which many believed to be a “crime against humanity.”
“We need [these] world leaders, including our own, airing their side on this very important concern. It disappoints me how our government can still afford to keep mum when it comes to religion,” said Pabillo in a post on Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website.
The bishop, who also chairs CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (CBCP-ECPA), shared that besides offering prayers, the atrocities committed by the religious extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against Iraq’s Christian communities have to be condemned for what they are.
There was also a need for Filipinos, led by the Philippine government, to express concern for Iraqi Christians, Pabillo stressed, by sending humanitarian aid.
Aside from renewing his appeal to the Filipino faithful to denounce the ongoing persecution of minority Christians in the predominantly Muslim country of Iraq, Pabillo also called on the Philippine government to take part in the humanitarian efforts in Iraq as soon as possible.