MANILA — The level of Australian military training activities with Filipino forces would depend on Congressional approval, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Col. Edgard Arevalo, said Tuesday.
“Ang meron tayo ngayon is yung pioneering training and ang binabalak natin, kagaya ng binanggit ni (AFP) Chief of Staff (Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero), isi-set up natin yan. Of course, the magnitude and extent, kung masyado nang malaki, will have to go through the process kung saan aaprubahan ng ating Kongreso (What we have now is pioneering training and our plan, as the AFP Chief of Staff said, is to set that up. Of course, the magnitude and extent, if it is too big, will have to go through the process of Congress approval),” Arevalo said.
This is possible as Australia has signed a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines in 2007 that was ratified in 2010. The agreement is “intended to enhance cooperation on maritime terrorism and other security threats”.
Under the deal, Australian troops will train their Filipino counterparts.
The Australian government, through its military, has earlier expressed its willingness to train Filipino troops in urban warfare.
So far, the direction for the AFP and the Australian Defense Force is towards collaboration, cooperation and more agreements, especially in the fight against terrorism, Arevalo added.
“We will see (in) what areas tayo pwedeng magtulungan, kagaya ng intelligence, information sharing and all other platforms, especially HADR, kasama rin yan, but definitely hanggang assistance lang tayo. Hindi sila pwedeng mag-actual participate sa combat (We will see in what areas we could collaborate, for instance intelligence, information sharing and all other platforms, especially humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, that is included, but definitely, it will be limited to assistance. They cannot participate in actual combat),” he said.