The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Saturday denied a security expert's claim that there is a "massive" terrorist recruitment in Central Mindanao.
"In so far as the AFP is concerned, there may be discreet and serious efforts to recruit, but not massive not to be monitored by the AFP," Colonel Edgard Arevalo, chief of the military's public affairs office, said in a statement.
In an interview over Super Radyo dzBB, Banlaoi said the recruitment activities of extremist groups in Central Mindanao have become "massive, discreet and decisive."
He said the local terrorists are exploiting the desperate condition of displaced residents of Marawi City, which suffered severe damage during a five-month seige by combined local terror groups led by Dawlah Islamiyah also known as the Maute group.
Aside from Marawi City, he said extremist groups are recruiting in Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao.
Banlaoi added that these groups recruit even children from nine years old and up and young ones who are already able to handle a gun.
The security expert had recommended that the government should not put much focus on the rehabilitation of Marawi City and instead "plant the seeds of peace and hope" among the displaced residents.
Arevalo said the AFP is already doing Banlaoi's recommendation through Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) programs.
He also said that the AFP is also aware that extremism cannot be resolved "using military solution alone."
"That is why the AFP is working in close coordination with other agencies of government like DSWD, DOH, DILG, NEDA, among others to address the issues of the internally-displaced persons and the roots of terrorism," the military spokesman added. —ALG, GMA News