Philippines, US hold exercise against plane hijacking

A five-day exercise simulating a hostage rescue and plane seizure held by Philippines and US forces to refocus their military alliance towards counter-terrorism finished.

Philippine soldiers in the southern Marawi city (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Philippine soldiers in the southern Marawi city (Photo: AFP/VNA)

The exercise, the first of its kind, involved about 1,200 people, including soldiers, airport police, hostage negotiators and civilians. They simulated hijacking in which eight gunmen forced a plane to land at Clark airport north of Manila.

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the drill was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's wish to refocus the two countries' 1951 mutual defence pact towards counter-terrorism and disaster relief.

It also served as an opportunity to assess the needs of the new security environment in the Pacific region, the Philippine official added.

The Philippines and the US will review their joint military activities when their military leaders meet in Hawaii on September 27.

The two countries have launched various exercises to fight transnational crime, natural disasters and ensure marine security over the years.

The US provided 700 million USD to enhance security of the Philippines over more than 17 years. The latest drill was held in the shadow of a US-backed military campaign to retake the Philippines' southern city of Marawi, which was occupied by pro-Islamic State gunmen more than four months ago.

The last hijacking in the Philippines was in May 2000, when a passenger armed with a grenade and handgun tried in vain to force a Manila-bound Philippine Airlines flight to return to the southern city of Davao, source from Vietnamplus.

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