Lorenzana debunks claims that more than 100 foreign IS terrorists are now in PH

Published March 19, 2019, 4:52 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Francis Wakefield 

CLARK AIR BASE, PAMPANGA – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday (March 19) debunked claims made by a security expert that about 100 foreign ISIS-inspired terrorists are now in the country.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (Office of the Secretary of National Defense / MANILA BULLETIN) (Photo: Joseph Vidal/PRIB/ MANILA BULLETIN)
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (Office of the Secretary of National Defense / MANILA BULLETIN) (Photo: Joseph Vidal/PRIB/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In a press briefing following the Philippine Air Force’ initial acceptance of spare parts and maintenance equipment for its UH-1 Huey aircraft donated by the Japananese government here, Lorenzana denied such a report, and insisted that only close to a dozen foreign terrorists are hiding in Mindanao.

“I would like to debunk that theory of I think Mr. Banlaoi. I think he was saying that there were already 100 ISIS in Mindanao. We don’t see those people there, not that much,” Lorenzana told reporters.

“Siguro merong konti doon, siguro couple. Siguro up to 10 [Maybe there are a few, maybe a couple. Maybe up to 10]. In fact namatay na nga iyung isa nung isang araw yata [one of them already died I think the other day],” he added.

Lorenzana was referring to a foreign terrorist said to be an Arab national, who was killed by the military following a three-day operation in the areas of Salibu-Pagatin-Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao.

Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s Sixth Infantry Division, identified the foreign terrorist as Abdul Rahman, who is a bomb maker.

He said they were able to establish the identity of Rahman based on their data base and information from their intelligence units.

Sobejana said they still have to check when Rahman entered the country and who came with him.

But the 6th ID chief said the foreigner was alligned with or part of the faction of Esmael Abdulmalik, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Toraype.

Lorenzana said while they (foreign and local terrorists) are losing their territories, they are going back to their own countries.

“Now if we have Filipinos there fighting in Syria, then we might expect them to be coming back here. Iyung mga The Malaysians, babalik sa Malaysia ‘yan [they will return to Malaysia). Ang mga Indonesian, sa Indonesia [The Indonesians, to Indonesia]. So the likelihood that they might also transfer from one country to another is very big,” he said.

Professor Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence, and Terrorism Research, was quoted as saying during a television interview, that most of the foreign terrorists in the country were Indonesians.

Intelligence reports also gathered by the think tank indicated that around 100 foreign terrorists are in the country.

Banlaoi also said these foreigners have reportedly joined the operations of local bandit groups such as the Abu Sayyaf, Abu Dar Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and Ansar Khalifa Islamiyah.

He also warned that planned suicide bombing attacks may possibly be launched by the Abu Sayyaf Group in some areas in Mindanano.

“Kaya nga pinapa-igting natin iyung ating cooperation with the Malayaians and Indonesians para hindi sila makalipat-lipat [That’s why we are intensifying our cooperation with the Malaysians and Indonesians so they cannot easily transfer] and we are also intensifying our operations in the south so we can eliminate them altogether,” Lorenzana said.

“Pero hindi ako naniniwala na lumalaki sila rito sa atin [But I don’t believe they are growing in numbers here],” he added.