THE resumption of the “Balikatan” military exercise between the Philippines and the United States is a welcome development as the “territorial dispute” in the West Philippine Sea heats up.
The annual PH-US military exercise started in 1991, but was cancelled last year because of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which continues to terrorize people across the globe.
Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), described the military exercise as “a treasure trove of learning opportunities for both Filipino and American soldiers.”
Col. Aaron Brunk of the US Marine Expeditionary Force said that “by training together, our militaries build upon each other, and strengthen each other,” adding “may this exercise and experience in the next couple of weeks add value to our partnership and our friendship.”
Aside from Sobejana and Brunk, other PH and US officials attended yesterday’s opening of the 12-day 36th Balikatan Exercise (BK36-21), which ends on April 23, at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
They included AFP Spokesman Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, Defense Undersecretary Cesar B. Yano, US Charge d’Affaires John Law and Col. Stephen Ma of JUSMAG (Joint US Military Assistance Group).
Yano presided over yesterday’s opening ceremony. This year’s “Balikatan” will include a bilateral staff exercise, close air support training, maritime security training and humanitarian and civic assistance activities.
These events will be conducted in areas within the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) and Southern Luzon Command (Solcom).
Perhaps, the stage is once more open for strengthening the country’s relations with friends and allies not only in the Asia-Pacific region but throughout the world.
Sa tingin nga ng maraming sektor, kabilang na ang mga ordinaryong mamamayan sa buong bansa, ay kailangang-kailangan natin ngayon ang tulong ng mga kaibigan.