Pinoy, Aussie forces hold joint exercise in Zamboanga

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    FILIPINO and Australian forces launched a joint military exercise in Zamboanga City on Monday to improve the capability of both sides in the fight against terrorism.

    Maj. Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, said the three-week exercise, dubbed Maritime Training Activity-Philippines, opened at the Naval Station Romulo Espaldon in the city.

    The ceremony was graced by Wesmincom chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Australia Deputy Head of Mission Richard Sisson, Zamboanga City Vice Mayor Rommel Agan and other officials from the armed forces of the two countries.

    Encinas said the exercise, to be conducted in Zamboanga City and other Wesmincom areas, will focus on countering terrorism.

    “With this joint exercise, I do believe that it is a very big deterrent so that the enemies of the state will think twice of passing along the area where the joint exercise is being conducted,” said Sobejana.

    “The presence of our partners from the Australian Navy is something that we here in Zamboanga City will truly value,” said Sobejana.

    Sobejana said foot soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines from Wesmincom “will just be around the corner to ensure that the security of our joint area of operation is being protected.”

    The Australians have brought in HMAS Ararat, an Armidale-class patrol boat, for the joint exercise.

    In his remarks, Agan said: “This visit (HMAS Ararat) signifies the strong alliance and relationship between the Philippine government and the government of Australia, and we appreciate that Zamboanga has been chosen as one of the ports of all.”