2 groups deny terror links

TWO non-government organizations running two schools in the country on Sunday denied they were involved in terrorist activities as charged by Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur last week.

In a statement, senior officials of the Integrative Center for Alternative Development Foundation Inc. or ICAD and Pacific Dialogue Foundation Inc. or PDF said the schools were owned by the foundations set up by private Filipino and Turkish citizens.

On Saturday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano ordered an investigation into an alleged Turkish terrorist group that had been in the Philippines since 1997.

Cayetano said he had ordered the Bureau of Immigration and Bureau of Customs to strictly enforce the law on foreign individuals and businessmen coming to the country.

“First of all, let me thank the people of Turkey and the ambassador for their concern for the Philippines,” Cayetano said.  

“We are doing our own investigation together with other agencies that have the capability of doing that.”  

Cayetano said Foreign Affairs was verifying the  alleged terror links of the Fetullah Gulen Movement in Zamboanga.

The foundations’ officials said the schools mentioned by the Turkish ambassador were offering secular education under the Cambridge system, and these were the Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School in Zamboanga City and Fountain International School in Metro Manila. 

The officials said these schools do not teach religion but accept students of all religious backgrounds as ICAD’s mandate was to promote peace and understanding through education among people of diverse cultures. 

“The schools’ students come from more than 20 countries, including children of foreign dignitaries, the foundations’ officials said in their statement. 

“With a Cambridge designed curriculum, aligned with [the Education Department’s] standards, the schools focus on science and mathematics. Since its establishment in 1996, ICAD has graduated 358 from Manila and 773 from Zamboanga, around 150 of whom were scholars of ICAD.” 

The officials vowed full cooperation in a probe by Philippine authorities in response to the charges raised by the Turkish ambassador, and expressed confidence those would be found false.

They said neither the Hizmet Movement nor its founder Fethullah Gulen had ever been involved in terrorist activities.

The officials expressed support for Fethullah Gulen’s principles of openness and tolerance among all people by offering secular educational opportunities in the Philippines regardless of religion or beliefs.  

They said the affiliated schools in about 150 countries, as allegedly linked to the same accusations by the Turkish ambassador, were legally operating in various countries including the United States, Belgium, France, Australia, Japan, South Africa and Germany. 

“At the outset, ICAD and PDF vehemently deny that they are terrorist organizations and that they participated in the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey,” the officials said.     

““We do not and have never had any links with any group involved in terror attacks.

“ICAD and PDF have never been involved in any criminal activities, much less terrorist activities in the Philippines or elsewhere. ICAD and PDF are also not affiliated with any terrorist organization.”

Topics: non-government organizations , terror links , Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur , Integrative Center for Alternative Development Foundation Inc. , ICAD , Pacific Dialogue Foundation Inc. , PDF , Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano
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