By Alexis Romero
MANILA, Philippines - The disclosure of Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu that there are about 1,200 foreign Islamic State (IS) members operating in the Philippines caught the military by surprise.
Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said they are still verifying the information as Malacañang affirmed the need to work with Asian neighbors to combat security threats.
“The revelations of the Indonesian defense minister are something that came as a surprise to us because, as was mentioned by senior defense officials, in truth, we don’t have those numbers,” Padilla told a press conference yesterday at Malacañang.
He said the Philippine military would ask Indonesia about the source of the information.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella refused to comment on the specific number, but stressed the need to work with neighboring countries in flushing terrorists out of the country.
“But it is clear that the violence in Marawi is being waged by both Philippine and international criminals, and the southern part of Mindanao has long been used as a refuge by fugitives from Indonesia, Malaysia and other locations,” Abella said.
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