Returning to Philippines

Department of Defence

An Australian soldier originally from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has returned home during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2023.

Australian Army Major Bayani Fernandez deployed to the Philippines as a liaison officer providing a mutual understanding of language and culture between the AFP and the ADF.

Before joining the ADF over 15 years ago, he was an officer with the AFP for more than 20 years.

His efforts have helped the ADF and the AFP train together and reinforce a long-term commitment to preserving defence relationships.

Major Fernandez said as a liaison officer he’s been able to provide more than just translations.

“I know more than just the language. I have a deep understanding of the Filipino people and their customs, including military practices and traditions,” Major Fernandez said.

“I understand both the practices and processes within the Philippines and Australian defence forces and have maintained military connections within the Armed Forces of the Philippines which aided the liaison between the two forces.

“I was also able to coordinate with key representatives to gain access, understand processes and make sure we’re all on the same page.

“The Philippines and Australian have a common goal, and we want the best for our soldiers.”

Major Fernandez has deployed to the Philippines once before, in 2019 on Operation Augury-Philippines, where he was tasked with assisting the ADF as they provided counter-terrorism training to more than 10,000 members of the AFP.

“Using my language skills and my previous Philippine Army experience I was able to negotiate and provide direction to various ADF-led counter terrorism trainings by directly visiting and speaking with Armed Forces of the Philippines key Joint Staffs,” Major Fernandez said.

“This was the beginning of the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Program-Philippines between our two countries that has strengthened our shared commitment to regional security and stability.”

As part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour, defence personnel from the Philippines and Australia are participating in Exercise Alon for the first time, conducting complex air, land and maritime training.

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