July 31, 2017

Legislator, mayor junk terrorist link claim vs Fil-Turkish NGO

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito has joined religious organizations and the San Juan City government in expressing support for a non-governmental organization (NGO) operating schools in the country that the Turkish Ambassador had accused of having links to terrorism.

In a news statement, Ejercito said the Integrative Center for Alternative Development Foundation, Inc. (ICAD) and its Fountain International School (FIS) in San Juan have proven to be steady partners of the city’s educational and sociocivic programs.

“In my experience, the school here in San Juan is run well. They are also cooperative with the community,” said Ejercito, a former San Juan City mayor.

His mother, incumbent San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez, likewise, issued a statement in support of the Filipino-Turkish NGO.

“It is but worthy to extend our gratitude and support to the ICAD and Fountain International School with its hardworking officials, faculty and staff,” Gomez said.

She added the San Juan government had partnered with the two institutions “on countless programs” to benefit the people of San Juan, including scholarships and tie-ups with the city-funded Polytechnic University of the Philippines—San Juan and outreach projects for the less privileged sector.

Both elective officials followed statements of support issued last week by religious officials for ICAD and its sister NGO the Pacific Dialogue Foundation Inc. (PDF), which runs the Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School in Zamboanga City. The statements were issued by representatives from major Catholic and Muslim religious groups including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and the Imam Council of the Philippines.

Former Education Secretary and La Salle University President Brother Armin A. Luistro debunked the allegation made by Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur that the two NGOs and their schools had terrorist links.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo M. Año told Malacañang reporters on Tuesday night that the militaty did not consider the NGOs as terrorist organizations, as he expressed belief that the ambassador’s accusation was due to internal politics in Turkey.

Luisto said: “I have never had any doubt that both ICAD and PDF are legitimate foundations that share our Filipino values of peace through education and a deep respect for our common humanity despite differences in cultures, beliefs and traditions. Both ICAD and PDF have been working quietly in their own way to build such an environment through their educational programs here in the Philippines.”

“I have never had any reason to link their operations here with alleged terror groups locally, as this would seem totally in conflict with their ongoing advocacies and programs on peace-building,” Luistro added.

Published on Business Mirror, 31 July 2017, Monday