Australia will not deploy military troops to the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, where state troopers are battling Islamic State-linked Maute terrorists, Ambassador Amanda Gorely said on Tuesday.
“We’d like to make it clear that there will be no Australian military troops on the ground and there won’t be boots on the ground in Mindanao or in the Marawi area,” Gorely told reporters aboard an Australian navy ship docked at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila.
The ambassador said Australia provided assistance to the Philippines by sending two P3 Orion planes.
The two planes provided intelligence and surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their operations in Marawi.
Gorely said Australian troops will also conduct military trainings alongside Filipino soldiers in military bases in Luzon.
“We may also take Filipino personnel in Australia for training as well,” Gorely added.
In September, Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the two countries are planning to swap troops who will join exercises that will focus on countering terrorism.
Gorely said the number of troops to be deployed in Manila is yet to be determined.
Payne and her counterparts from other Southeast Asian countries will discuss the matter during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Defense Ministers’ Meeting to be held from October 23 to 24 in Clark, Pampanga. DEMPSEY REYES