MANILA – The Philippine Army (PA) is eager to go on training and exercises with its Australian counterparts once conditions return to normal as soon as the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic is over.
“Our planners are in constant coordination such that trainings and exercises can be conducted once conditions permit,” Army commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said in a statement Friday, following his video meeting with Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson on Thursday.
He, however, admitted the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the postponement and cancelation of majority of its security engagements with Australia.
Gapay also said the video meeting shows that Philippine ties with the global community, including Australia, remain strong.
There, the Army commander exchanged updates and thanked the Australian envoy for the donation of supplies used by the country’s medical front-liners.
When asked on the significance of Gapay and Robinson’s meeting, PA spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said this highlights the strong ties between the two nations.
“We have Status of Visiting Forces Agreement with them and we have the (Enhanced) Defense Cooperation Program with them. They also assist us in anti-terror training,” he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.
The country’s Enhanced Defense Cooperation Program with Australia stemmed from the earlier Operation Augury which provided Australian counter-terrorism training to 10,000 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines aside from essential land-based activities focused on urban combat and joint coordination skills; air training focused on enhancing air coordination; and maritime activities. (PNA)