Philippines, Australia navies begin security exercises


Manila, Nov 10: The Philippines and Australian navies on Friday began a 22-day joint maritime exercise at Mindanao Island in the country, officials said.

“The engagement involves a series of meeting procedures, planning and coordination for the conduct of the combined patrols in the western Mindanao. This is likewise in support to the anti-terrorism and piracy campaign of the government,” said Rear Admiral Rene Medina, commander of the Philippines Naval Forces Western Mindanao.

Two Royal Australian Navy Vessels — Her Majesty Australian Ship (HMAS) Larraika and HMAS Maitland — anchored in Zamboanga City pier, Xinhua news agency reported.

Medina said four Philippines Navy vessels will also be used in the exercises that run from November 10 to December 1.

Aside from enhancing maritime cooperation, Medina said that the joint activities are designed to secure the vast maritime domain of the Sulu Sea, where the exercises will be conducted.

“This will prove that the Philippines Navy does not work alone in protecting and maintaining the peace, order and stability in its area of responsibility,” he said, adding that the Philippines Navy and the Royal Australian Navy have “a strong relationship when it comes to maritime patrol and security”.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne in October announced that the country is readying a mobile military team to provide Philippines troops with urban warfare counter-terrorism training.

Payne said this latest arrangement is part of the agreement between Canberra and Manila to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation to prevent the Islamic State militants from establishing a geographic foothold in the region.

“Australian Defence Force (ADF) mobile training teams will be posted to selected military bases in the Philippines to conduct urban warfare counterterrorism training in the coming days,” she said.

The ADF will expand its assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to strengthen its long-term ability to combat terrorist threats and prevent the spread of the IS to the region.