SULU – The Philippines and Australia finished a 5-day joint maritime patrol exercise in the Sulu Archipelago as part of a bilateral agreement aimed at strengthening defense relations of the two countries, officials said Monday.
Rear Admiral Rene Medina, of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said the exercise, which started September 22, was participated by the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, a frigate, under the command of Glen Dizon and the Australian Ship HMAS Parramatta.
“The exercise was designed to strengthen the defense relationship of both navies when it comes to the establishment of communications with each other while conducting joint maritime patrols in the region,” Medina said, adding, Australian Defence Attaché, Capt. Bradley Ian White led the Parramatta delegation.
Australia also offered to help the Philippines fight local ISIS militants in the besieged city of Marawi where the battle entered its 6th month now. One soldier was killed and more than a dozen others wounded in the fighting over the weekend while trying to dislodge militants led by Isnilon Hapilon from a mosque.
The war, which began on May 23 when militants occupied Marawi, forced over 200,000 civilians fleeing for their lives. The military said the fighting could end soon, but thousands of soldiers are expected to arrive soon to augment the thousands of infantrymen battling several hundred ISIS militants who are still holding dozens of civilian hostages. (Mindanao Examiner)
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