News / USA

US, Philippine Forces End Joint Maneuvers

U.S. and Philippine Marines board a CH-53 to prepare for a water insertion exercise to practice jumping from the chopper into water for raids and humanitarian assistance, Philippine Marine Base Gregorio Lim, Ternate, Cavite, Sept. 20, 2013. (Simone Orendain/VOA)U.S. and Philippine Marines board a CH-53 to prepare for a water insertion exercise to practice jumping from the chopper into water for raids and humanitarian assistance, Philippine Marine Base Gregorio Lim, Ternate, Cavite, Sept. 20, 2013. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
x
U.S. and Philippine Marines board a CH-53 to prepare for a water insertion exercise to practice jumping from the chopper into water for raids and humanitarian assistance, Philippine Marine Base Gregorio Lim, Ternate, Cavite, Sept. 20, 2013. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
U.S. and Philippine Marines board a CH-53 to prepare for a water insertion exercise to practice jumping from the chopper into water for raids and humanitarian assistance, Philippine Marine Base Gregorio Lim, Ternate, Cavite, Sept. 20, 2013. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
Simone Orendain
More than 2,000 U.S. and Philippine marines finished three weeks of joint amphibious exercises in the northern Philippines Friday, capping the year’s joint training agenda, which officials of both countries hope will be expanded in the near future.  But the U.S. government shutdown has cast a shadow as the two governments talk about more U.S. troop visits to the Philippines.  

The bilateral exercises closed on a day that President Barack Obama was supposed to go the Philippines.  But he canceled his visit because of the U.S. government shutdown.  Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to go in his stead, but Kerry’s trip was canceled Thursday afternoon because Manila was about to be battered by a typhoon.

Despite the nixed trips, Visiting Forces Commission Executive Director Edilberto Adan said the Philippines remains reassured by its partnership with the United States.

“We have our common values.  We want a democracy that is alive.  Both our nations respect the rule of law.  We want freedom of navigation of our seas.  So this alliance is emphasized through these exercises that these two nations remain committed to the purpose, to the objectives, of the Mutual Defense Treaty,” Adan stated.

Negotiators from the Philippines and the U.S. are currently combing through the Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement to work out how the Philippines will accommodate more frequent U.S. troop visits.

The U.S. wants easy access to areas where it could dock ships, land planes and have equipment positioned and ready to use.  Philippine negotiators say the plan fits well with their weak and aging military’s $1.8 billion upgrade program, and add that having more training opportunities with a visible American presence would help form a “minimum credible defense posture.”  The Philippines is in a territorial dispute with China over rocks and outcroppings in the South China Sea, which China claims almost entirely.

While the details of the agreement were being scrutinized by the parties in several rounds of talks in Washington and Manila, marines from both countries carried out exercises in waters near disputed territory.

On a windy Friday in Ternate, Cavite - about 220 kilometers southeast of the contested Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea - a massive CH-53 helicopter whirred above the choppy water of a small beach.  A few dozen marines in full gear jumped out of its belly aiming for rubber boats below.

The troops were practicing entering locations through water for military raids and humanitarian purposes.

This was not the first time Philippine marines practiced the maneuver.  But Philippine Marines spokesman Vince Salmingo said it was an important activity to share with U.S. counterparts.

“The new thing here is as much as possible we try to… avail of a new unit to do this.  Our other guys were able to undergo the same training before," Salmingo explained. "But for this particular exercise… it is going to be a new unit but the same training.”

The pending agreement makes clear that there will be no U.S. bases in the Philippines, which closed down century-old American installations in 1992 under domestic pressure. The Philippine negotiators say they do not expect any doubling of the thousands of troops that come every year for joint activities.  

The Mutual Defense Board, comprised of both countries’ officials, is meeting next week to plan the coming year’s joint exercises.  Undersecretary Adan said they hope to have additional training scheduled under the anticipated agreement.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More