Members of the Philippine Coast Guard Northern Mindanao apprehended five male “persons of interest” at the Macabalan Pier Monday night.
PCG district commander Col. Leovigildo Panopio said port authorities became suspicious and intercepted the men who appeared jittery and nervous upon approaching the X-ray machine.
Panopio said the men claimed they were missionaries of Islam on their way to Manila, but failed to recite basic teachings of the religion. They also presented fake IDs. The 5 admitted fabricating the IDs.
The men insisted they visited various areas in Mindanao to teach Islam.
However, port authorities did not find illegal items from them and they also appeared healthy, with no signs of injury.
The Coast Guard said the five are in their 20s.
Although they are not included in the arrest order Number 1 issued by Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Panopio added they are not dismissing the possibility that the men could be sympathizers of the Maute terrorist group.
The men’s cellular phones have already been confiscated for investigation.
They are held at PCG Northern Mindanao Headquarters while their identities are still under scrutiny.