MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 29 May) – Manila is to benefit from Australia once a security pact is signed between the two countries, a Filipino defense deputy said.
Defense Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor said the Philippines is to receive 28 patrol crafts wort some four million dollars from Canberra once the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) has been signed.
The defense cooperation agreement, he said, is expected to be signed soon.
The agreement contains key elements such as the basis of visits, entry and departure conditions, how training and exercises are to be conducted, carriage of arms, security and criminal jurisdiction, provisions, importation and exportation regulations and environmental protection
The accord is aimed at enhancing military capabilities of both the Philippines and Australia in fighting terrorism and transnational crimes, he said.
The Philippine Army is likely to get most of the boats which would be used in patrolling Mindanao’s huge marshlands, used by rebels to launch terror attacks.
Aside from patrol crafts, Australia would also spend four million dollars annually to train Filipino troops in anti-terrorism warfare.
The Philippines is also working for a similar military cooperation with Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia. Manila is currently holding joint anti-terrorism training with the United States. (Juley Reyes)