Palace: Australia’s offer of assistance to AFP limited to ‘technical matters’
Malacañang on Wednnesday welcomed the assistance offered by Australia to the Philippine troops in a bid to counter terror acts perpetrated by Islamic State (IS) fighters.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Duterte government was open to any aid from foreign countries that would help the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) quell insurgency in the strife-torn southern Philippines.
“The offer of Australia to train the AFP is most welcome. The fight against terrorism – to reiterate -- is not only the concern of the Philippines, but it is a concern of many nations around the world,” Abella said.
“The Philippines has in many occasions expressed its willingness to receive assistance from foreign countries if they offer it,” he added.
According to reports from Agence France-Presse, Australia has offered to “advise, train, and assist” the Philippine military.
The Philippine forces are currently fighting IS-linked militants aiming to occupy Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province. The armed struggle emerged on May 23.
The conflict between the Philippine government troops and Islamist extremists prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare military rule in Mindanao.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she already told Duterte about Australia’s intent to extend assistance to AFP.
“I went through the President in some detail the support we have given in Iraq, that does not include troopa on the ground. That is advising and assisting,” Bishop said.
Abella likewise said Australia’s assistance is limited to “technical matters,” noting that direct partipation of foreign fighters is a violation of the law.
“Assistance, however, is limited to technical matters, training, and information gathering and sharing,” Abella said.
“It will not involve any boots on the ground in accordance to our law prohibiting the direct participation of foreign troops in combat operations,” he added.