A few weeks after the Australia government announced that they will be training Philippine soldiers to battle terror in the Philippines, Singapore has also joined the program by providing training to 40 members of the Philippine Army special operations command.
The training, which is being held from December 4 to 15, came after Philippine soldiers struggled to engage at least 800 ISIS-inspired terrorists in Marawi City in an unprecedented five-month long urban warfare.
Singapore Minister Ng Eng Hen said that there is a need for ASEAN member-states to work together to fight terrorism.
The training of Philippine soldiers in Singapore will focus on Urban Warfare training which the Philippine military has very little exposure to.
Apart from Singapore, other developed countries such as US, China, Australia and Russia have provided military and technical assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to battle terrorism after the Marawi armed conflict.
Hen further said that if extremists gain a foothold in any country, they will launch attacks against all ASEAN cities and this is the key lesson learned from dealing with Al Qaeda and ISIS.
"The terrorists can be defeated, if we do it together," Hen said
The two-week intensive training will be held at the Murai Urban Training Facility, a training center with the most sophisticated technology how to suppress terror attacks in an urban setting.
But Hen said the training will not only be a one-way learning because the Philippine soldiers will also share their experience with Singapore soldiers about their experience in the Marawi battle.
The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia earlier formed a defense agreement called Indomaphil to run after terrorists in the maritime. Though Singapore was not a signatory to the trilateral agreement, Singapore has been providing intelligence information and assistance about the presence of terrorism in the southern Philippines.
Moreover, when the Marawi battle against terrorists ended last October 2017, many analysts warned that terrorists are building themselves to strike back again.
Rolly Pelinggon, a Mindanao redevelopment expert said, that with the destruction of schools in Marawi and the absence of formal education, children will again be vulnerable to violent extremist ideology.
"The government has to fast-track building more schools that will provide formal quality education otherwise, it will be too late for the government to react because thousands have already embraced violent extremism as a result of the absence of formal schools," Pelinggon said.