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Two NGOs deny terror link charges

SENIOR officials of two local non-government organizations (NGOs)  running two schools in the country have denied the accusations last  week of Turkish Ambassador Esra Cankorur that they are involved  in terrorist activities.

In a statement, senior officials of the Integrative Center for Alternative Development Foundation, Inc. (ICAD) and Pacific Dialogue Foundation, Inc. (PDF) said the local schools are owned by these local  foundations set up by private Filipino and Turkish citizens.

“At the outset, ICAD and PDF vehemently deny that they are terrorist organizations and that they participated in the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. We do not and have never had any links with any group involved in terror attacks,” they said.

“ICAD and PDF have never been involved in any criminal activities, much less terrorist activities in the Philippines or elsewhere.  ICAD and PDF are not affiliated either with any terrorist organization,” they stressed. “ICAD and PDF are open to providing any information about its operations and will do anything to clear its good name and reputation, which it has built through the hard work of its directors, officers and teachers.”

“We would like to ask if you could unlink the part of the news which mentions the problems in Marawi. This creates an impression that ICAD and PDF have some affiliations with the problems. We hope our request merits your kind consideration and that you will allow us to eventually present a well-informed statement on the truth about PDF and ICAD,” it added.
    
The NGO officials said the two local schools mentioned by the Turkish Ambassador offer a secular education under the Cambridge system.
    
These are the Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School in Zamboanga City and Fountain International School in Metro Manila.
    
These schools do not teach religion. They accept students of all  religious backgrounds as ICAD’s mandate is to promote peace and understanding through education among people of diverse cultures.
    
The schools’ students come from more than 20 countries, including children of foreign dignitaries.
    
With a Cambridge designed curriculum, aligned with the Department of Education (DepEd) standards, the schools focus on science and mathematics.
    
Since its establishment in 1996, ICAD has graduated 358 from Manila and 773 from  Zamboanga, around 150 of whom were scholars of ICAD.
    
The NGO officials vowed their full cooperation in a probe by Philippine authorities in response to the charges made by the Turkish Ambassador, and expressed confidence that these will be found false.
    
They added that, despite strong representations by the Turkish government on these countries, their investigations have concluded that neither the Hizmet Movement nor its founder Fethullah Gulen have ever been involved in terrorist activities.
    
The NGO officials expressed support for Fethullah Gulen’s principles of openness and tolerance among all people by offering secular educational opportunities in the Philippines regardless of religion or beliefs.
    
Moreover, the affiliated schools in approximately 150 countries, as allegedly linked to the same accusations by the Turkish Ambassador, are legally operating in various countries, including the United States, Belgium, France, Australia, Japan, South Africa and Germany.