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This is just a test: Philippines, US kick off major war games in Pacific

Published time: May 05, 2014 13:23
Philippine (R) and US soldiers (L) salute in front of their national flags during the opening ceremony of the Philippine-US annual joint military exercises or locally known as "Balikatan 2014", at the military headquarters in Manila on May 5, 2014 (AFP Photo / Ted Aljibe)

Philippine (R) and US soldiers (L) salute in front of their national flags during the opening ceremony of the Philippine-US annual joint military exercises or locally known as "Balikatan 2014", at the military headquarters in Manila on May 5, 2014 (AFP Photo / Ted Aljibe)

More than 5,000 US and Filipino soldiers have begun war games in the region at a time of increased tension – especially from the regional power, China - over America’s growing military footprint in the Pacific.

The two-week naval exercises, dubbed "Balikatan" (shoulder-to-shoulder), are ostensibly designed to help the two allies respond to emergencies, including piracy and natural disasters.

Nearly 5,500 American and Filipino service personnel will participate in the naval games, which will involve the participation of US F-18 fighter jets and soldiers involved in live ammo exercises, on the main island of Luzon.

The maneuvers, held on the edge of the South China Sea, come just one week after Manila and Washington hammered out the details of a new security agreement, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which gives the US Navy broader access to local ports and military bases.

Given the current realities in the region, no military maneuvers can occur without some level of suspicion from neighboring powers.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario made a veiled reference to China, with whom Manila has had territorial conflicts, when he said the exercises would help counter “excessive and expansive maritime and territorial claims."

"The aggressive patterns of behavior, aimed at changing the status quo, threaten peace and stability in the region. Balikatan 2014 with its focus on maritime security strongly supports our capabilities to address these challenges."

Philippine (R) and US soldiers (L) stand at attention while their national flags are carried to the stage for the opening ceremony of the Philippine-US annual joint military exercises or locally known as "Balikatan 2014", at the military headquarters in Manila on May 5, 2014 (AFP Photo / Ted Aljibe)

Del Rosario then commented on the dozens of protesters who gathered in central Manila to speak out against the heightened American presence in the Philippines, which many believe is leading to tense relations with China.

"It is silly that China is even being mentioned since the US has expressed its non-committal (sic) to defend the Philippines in the event of an armed confrontation with China," said Renato Reyes, Bayan (Nation) secretary-general.

China and the Philippines have exchanged threats over ownership rights to the Spratly Islands, an archipelago in the South China Sea, which is believed to contain a vast quantity of oil and natural gas reserves. The islands, which spread over more than 425,000 square kilometers (164,000 square miles) of water, are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Asked about the joint exercises in its geopolitical backyard, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said all sides needed to work "constructively" to maintain peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region.

"We hope that the relevant US-Philippines drills can work in this direction," she told a daily news briefing.

The annual naval maneuvers between American and Filipino troops date back to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, a leftover military collaboration along the lines of NATO, assembled during the height of the Cold War.

Comments (32)

 

malachi 06.05.2014 09:17

Antany Peter,
how right you are?
do the filipinnos even know not that many years ago the americans killed 1-2 million of fillipinos in the little known US-fillipino war that some fillipino historians called genocide. these ppl dont know history and are being kept in the dark.

 

A. Smith 06.05.2014 09:11

Ten's of Thousands of Filipino's loudly and physically protested the arrival of Zionist corrupted USA President Barack Obama.

The Philippines citizens rightly see goose stepping, war mongering Obama Whitehouse as pushing the Philippines into a lethal, destructive War with China vs USA with Filipino's in the middle. Obama is secretly pouring some 70% of its military assets into the South Pacific region encircling China and Russia in Operation Anaconda which secretly includes placing USA fighter bombers, warships on Philippines bases in aleiu of what appears to be a build-up to WW3.

Impeac h Obama
Boycott All Israel

 

Antany Peter 06.05.2014 09:01

The West is extremely powerful and constantly dividing the other parts of the world to keep its power. The West has gone through the First and the Second World Wars without having to counterattack any other superpowers dividing them. How in this earth the East is going to unite and become successful while we have self-centered leaders among us, and the powerful West is constantly dividing us? Therefore, the East becoming a powerful region is questionable; unless the Asian leaders think differently and work together to achieve peace and prosperity in the region. It is very sad, we are in billions but keep falling.

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