THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday denied reports that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is already operating in the country, particularly in Basilan.
Appearing at the budget hearing in the House of Representatives, AFP Chief of Staff General Ricardo Visaya maintained that government troops have been fighting only the Abu Sayyaf Group and not the ISIS.
However, Visaya is not discounting possibility that there might be other groups following ISIS doctrines.
"As of now we have no confirmation on that report. However we know there are groups not only ASG who are inspired by the ISIS," Visaya said.
Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque asked the AFP about reports that government soldiers have encountered ISIS troops in Basilan as late as July 2.
Reports also said that ASG top leader Isnilon Hapilon already pledged allegiance to the ISIS.
Previous reports also said that ISIS is allegedly recruiting Filipino terrorists from Mindanao, particularly members of the ASG.
"Although Hapilon pledged support to ISIS, there is no assurance he’s been accepted. We received that report but it is unconfirmed. We will confirm as soon as possible," Visaya said.
The Department of National Defense is proposing P178.2 billion budget for 2017 of which P130 billion is for the AFP's operations and salaries for uniformed and non-uniformed personnel.