The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will train Filipino troops to further enhance their capability to fight terrorism in the country.
"As we all know we have a very long history of military cooperation and the training and exercising with the Philippines so what we discussed today is (continue) with the support of some small ADF teams that might be able to provide some specialized training to the AFP," Australian Defence Minister Marise Ann Payne said after meeting with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in Villamor Airbase last Friday.
"I'm very pleased to greet my counterpart Secretary Lorenzana each day that we can increase our engagements surge if you like... and we will ask our officials to finalize (and to commit forces), thank you Mr. Secretary," she added.
Lorenzana also expressed hope the support of the Australian government against terrorism in the Philippines may be implemented by the coming months.
"We’ve been training with them (ADF) for so many years already but this surge that the minster mentioned a while ago is actually to support our efforts against the terrorists… and hopefully next month during the (ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting) ADMM Plus we will be able to see if we can, if this can be implemented on the ground," he said.
Payne said this was among topics discussed during their meeting but she did not give details.
"In terms of the further details both Secretary Lorenzana and I will be speaking with our respective leaders and leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Australian Defense Force to ensure that we come together and arrangement that... we are very committed to supporting in its efforts to defend itself against terrorist threats not only because we support our friends but because it is important for Australia as well," she said."This is a threat to the region that we all need to work together to defeat, it is a threat not just here in the Philippines but elsewhere and we know as our defense forces has been engaged in the middle east for some long time now and particularly watching the potential for returning foreign fighters in the region," she added. Robina Asido/DMS
Aside from cooperation between Philippine and Australia, Payne also emphasized the importance of cooperation with other neighbouring countries in the region that are also facing problem brought by terrorism.
"I think its important to recognize that this is in effect an engagement in long term cooperation, leading to long term cooperation, which is about recognizing that the challenge we face from terrorists in this region is going to be exacerbated by the potential of returning foreign fighters. People who have been in the Middle East in the midst of the most extremist terrorism behaviour of the world has seen in a very long time, they have battle hardened, they well trained, they are very determined and we need to ensure as participants in… but particularly part of the world that our respective forces are as well trained as well engaged together as they can be to address that challenge together," she said.
"So I'm here today to have this conversation with secretary Lorenzana, but he and I discussed during our meeting, that we also had this discussion with minister... of Malaysia, with minister, Ryacudu in Indonesia, with Dr. Ng Eng Hen in Singapore because all of us are looking at the challenge in the region that we are facing and all us are determined that we will work as closely together as we can to ensure that we invest in cooperation, that we invest in mutual engagement to present the most effective defense against the extremist terrorist threat," she added.
It can be recalled that the Australian government sent two AP-3C Orion aircraft in the country more than two months ago to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines on its on-going battle against the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City. Robina Asido/DMS