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Student says ISIS recruiting members from Mindanao university

A student in Zamboanga City said members of jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are recruiting students from a Mindanao university.

GMA News TV's "News To Go" on Wednesday quoted the student from Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) as saying ISIS has been recruiting students for the past two months, adding that each recruit would be given P70,000.

Recruiters also promised more benefits for students who finish their training as ISIS members, the report added.

But the WMSU administration said this is the first time they heard about the supposed recruitment of students in the campus, the same report said.

For his part, Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro on Wednesday said he has not received reports of ISIS members recruiting Filipinos at campuses in Mindanao .

In an interview at the sidelines of the Child-Friendly Philippines launch, Luistro said he had asked all regional directors in Mindanao, including in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), to look into the matter after it was reported by the press.

"Nagtanong ako sa mga regional director sa buong Mindanao, [na tinanong] lahat ng superintendents, sabi nila wala naman," he said.

"Nagtanong rin tayo sa ARMM, pero walang balita," he added.

Luistro also denied reports quoting him as confirming ISIS recruitment activities at campuses.

He told reporters at Wednesday's launch: "Kung meron kayong alam na eskwelahan [na may ISIS recruiters], sabihan niyo naman ako kasi hinahanap natin kung saan 'yan."

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has since denied receiving any intelligence reports on ISIS recruitment activities, particularly in Basilan, the News To Go report said.

Security officials said that while they have yet to receive verified information on the existence of ISIS in the country, they already "take this threat very seriously."

Earlier, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hatamas dismissed reports of ISIS presence in the region, saying that the terror group's connection with bandit groups in the region may merely be because of a similar "line of thinking."

Hataman said the provincial government is coordinating with its local counterparts and has so far gathered no information about the speculated presence of ISIS members.

In August, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) spokesman Abu Misry Mama said: "We have an alliance with the Islamic State and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi."

He also confirmed a YouTube video uploaded earlier, showing a purported BIFF leader flanked by armed men reading a statement of support for the IS, had come from his group.
In 2008, BIFF split from the Philippines' main Muslim rebel group, the 12,000-member Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The latter signed a peace agreement with President Benigno Aquino's government last March. — Amanda Fernandez and Rose-An Jessica Dioquino /LBG, GMA News