... Australia is another security partner of the Philippines that extended immediate and urgent assistance to the AFP during the battle of Marawi. Australia sent two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion aircrafts to provide surveillance and reconnaissance support to the AFP’s combat operation against Muslim militants who took control of the city. Signal and photographic intelligence provided by the American and Australian reconnaissance planes enabled the AFP to deploy its FA-50s fighter planes and OV-10 ground attack planes to launch surgical airstrikes on the ISIS’ positions in the city. During the fighting, Australia has also considered sending Australian Defense Force (ADF) personnel to the Philippines to advise and assist the AFP in its counter-terrorism campaign against the Islamic militants—something that the ADF has been doing in Iraq. In the aftermath of the battle, Australia has been looking at further collaboration and capacity-building work with the Philippines and other regional partners on fostering cooperation among regional coast guards to tighten border control in the Sulu Sea to limit the movement of money, technology, and fighters to extremist groups in the Southern Philippines.
This commentary examines the Philippines’ efforts to connect the separate US bilateral alliances in the Indo-Pacific region as it forges a security partnership with Australia. It explores this main question: how does the Philippines establish and foster a security partnership with Australia? It also raises the following corollary questions: what are the Philippines’ motives in pursuing security partnerships with Australia and other US allies? What are the limits of the Philippine-Australia security partnership?