Canadian Islamist preacher to be deported from Philippines

MANILA - A Canadian Islamic preacher detained for being a security threat in the Philippines has agreed to be deported, an immigration official said Saturday.

Jamaican-born Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips will be flown back to Canada as soon as possible, said immigration spokeswoman Elaine Tan.

"He voluntarily requested to be deported," she told AFP, allowing the government to fly him out without going through deportation proceedings.

Philips was detained by police in the city of Davao last weekend while on a lecture tour in the south, where the country's restive Islamic minority is based.

"He was blacklisted (due to) information that he may conduct activities that are a threat to our national security," Tan said.

She said that the government hoped to fly Philips out quickly, but could not yet give a specific date.

In Davao, the regional police spokesman Superintendent Tony Rivera said they were ordered to hold Philips due to security advisories from several countries, adding he may have ties to extremist groups and labelling him as "dangerous".

In a post on his Facebook page, dated September 10, Philips, described by police as being 68, said: "I am safe and well-treated in Davao City immigration custody".

He also denied the allegations he was involved with extremists, expressing hope he might eventually be allowed back into the Philippines.

He conceded that he was blacklisted in the United States, Britain, Australia and Kenya, but said that this was based partly on statements that were taken out of context.

Philips was the second Islamic convert preacher to be detained by the Philippines since July, when it also arrested and later deported Robert Edward Cerantonio to Australia.

Police said Cerantonio had used the Internet to urge people to join "jihad" in Iraq and Syria, though they said they had no evidence to show he had managed to recruit any Filipinos.

Two southern Philippines-based Muslim guerrilla groups, the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, have uploaded videos on the Internet pledging alliance to the Islamic State militants who have overrun large swathes of the two Middle Eastern countries.