MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has expressed its gratitude to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the technical assistance Australia had provided in the five-month campaign against Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City.
AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, thanked Turnbull during the latter’s visit to Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Monday, military public affairs office chief, Col. Edgard Arevalo, said late Tuesday.
“The entire AFP, under Gen. Guerrero, took the occasion to thank personally the Australian government, through the Prime Minister, for its benevolent technical assistance that led to the success of the operation (in Marawi City) and particularly capacitating the AFP in the campaign against terrorism,” Arevalo added in Filipino.
Australian technical assistance to the Philippines consisted of the deployment of two AP-3C “Orion” aircraft, which were used in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions that greatly aided Filipino forces engaged in mopping up the terrorists in Marawi City.
Fighting broke out in the city after government troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts last May 23. It officially ended on Oct. 23 after military units neutralized Hapilon and Omar Maute, one of the co-founders of the terror group.
An estimated 923 terrorists and 165 troopers were killed in the five-month battle, which inflicted billions of pesos worth of damage on Marawi City.