PH fighter jets redeployed in Marawi after air strike mishap

MANILA, Philippines – The FA-50s of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) were redeployed in Marawi City against heavily armed local terror groups 3 weeks after an air strike mishap that killed two soldiers and wounded 11 others. 

"Ginamit na po muli natin ang FA-50 sa ating air strikes sapagkat base sa initial investigation na ating isinagawa wala pong fault na nakita sa eroplano o sa mga piloto," said Colonel Edgard Arevalo, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office. 

(We redeployed the FA-50 aircraft for our air strikes because based on initial investigation conducted, there was no fault on the part of the aircraft or the pilot.)

Arevalo said the investigation found that certain adjustments to tactics and procedures were necessary to avoid a repeat of the fatal air strike mishap.

"I'm not in a position yet to tell you what those adjustments are, but suffice it to say that it is safe for us to use them. It's high time for us to put to use once more thes FA-50s after having gone through the initial investigation," he said.

The air strike mishap that killed two soldiers on July 12 was the second incident since the clashes erupted on May 23. Ten soldiers were killed in the first incident on June 1 involving the SF260 trainers jets of the air force.

The FA-50s are multirole fighter aircraft that the Philippines acquired brand new from South Korea. They were originally meant to improve defense of its claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) where regional conflict grew tense in recent years. 

The jets were instead deployed to fight terrorists in Mindanao. They first saw action in 2016 in Butig, Lanao Del Sur where the military fought local terror groups linked with the Islamic State (ISIS). Clashes moved to Marawi in May 2017.

The Marawi crisis has entered its 3rd month. The battle zone has narrowed but the humanitarian crisis grows as nearly 400,000 residents in Marawi and nearby towns are still unable to return to their homes. (READ: Marawi: Where military rules and LGUs take a backseat

President Rodrigo Duterte and AFP chief General Eduardo Año have recently made declarations that the war is nearly over with less than a hundred terrorists holding out in the battle zone.

There is no word yet on the situation of supposedly about hundred hostages, including Catholic priest Father Teresito "Chito" Soganub.