MANILA: The Philippines is certain of “very strong” links between Islamic State and home-grown militants and is concerned about regional repercussions from tension between China and the new US administration, Manila’s defense minister said yesterday. Intelligence from various sources had shown Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines had been communicating with Islamic State, and funds were being transferred via mechanisms commonly used by Filipino workers in the Middle East, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told Reuters.

“Before, what we suspected was the ISIS group would come here but now we are certain that the connections are very strong between home-grown terrorists here and ISIS in the Middle East,” he said in an interview, referring to Islamic State.

“Also there’s quite an amount of money being sent here from the Middle East.” He said communications via social media, telephone and text messages had been intercepted and funds were being transferred that were difficult to detect due to the large numbers of Filipinos who regularly remit income from places like Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf states. — Reuters