Philippines, U.S. simulate hijacking in counterterrorism drill

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and the United States simulated a plane hijacking and hostage-taking incident in Tempest Wind, a recently concluded drill designed to train Philippine and US troops in fighting terrorism. 

In a press conference on Tuesday, September 26, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tempest Wind "focused on an aircraft hijacking and hostage-taking scenario."

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said the exercises "simulated a scenario involving a real commercial airliner filled with over 150 actors who played hostages."

Kim said that this "created a realistic environment to test bilateral, interagency decision-making, and tactical response."

He added that "over 1,200 US and Philippine civilian and military participants contributed to the exercise." 

The ambassador said it "involved everyone, from senior officials of our national security agencies to the brave soldiers and police officers who do the front-line work of defending our safety and security."

Lorenzana said, "With the help of our friends and allies like the US, I am confident that we can nip this problem in the bud before it grows and affects other parts of the country, the region, and the world."

Tempest Wind comes as clashes continue between government troops and the Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Maute Group in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

The US earlier said it was donating P730 million ($15 million) to help rebuild Marawi City.

The US extends these forms of assistance in the context of President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades against the US for supposedly meddling in his bloody anti-drug campaign. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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