News / Asia

US, Philippines Launch Joint Military Drills

U.S. Marine Col. John Rutherford, 2nd from R, and Philippine Army Maj.Gen. Emeraldo Magnaye, 3rd from R, unfurl the joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise flag at Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Manila, Philippines, on May 5, 2014.
U.S. Marine Col. John Rutherford, 2nd from R, and Philippine Army Maj.Gen. Emeraldo Magnaye, 3rd from R, unfurl the joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise flag at Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Manila, Philippines, on May 5, 2014.
VOA News
Thousands of Philippine and U.S. soldiers began annual war games on Monday, the first under a new security pact with the United States, focusing on maritime security in the face of China's growing naval presence in the disputed South China Sea.

The joint exercises ``Balikatan'' (shoulder-to-shoulder) would test the combat readiness of the two oldest allies in this part of the world to respond to any maritime threats, including piracy and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

The 10-day, annual military exercise is being held amid increasing tensions in the disputed South China Sea.

Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said tensions in the region had increased in recent years because of expansive maritime and territorial disputes.

“Tensions in the Asia-Pacific region have increased due to excessive and expansive maritime and territorial claims, undermining the rule of law,'' del Rosario said at the opening ceremony.

He did not mention China, but Beijing has been increasingly aggressive about asserting territorial claims on disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Pact signed last week

Washington and Manila signed a defense deal last week that gives U.S. troops more access to bases in the Philippines.

Asked about the exercises, 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 U.S.-Philippines drills can work in this direction,'' she told a daily news briefing.
 
Protesters picket the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to coincide with the opening ceremony of the joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise dubbed Balikatan 2014, in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines, on May 5, 2014.Protesters picket the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to coincide with the opening ceremony of the joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise dubbed Balikatan 2014, in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines, on May 5, 2014.
x
Protesters picket the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to coincide with the opening ceremony of the joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise dubbed Balikatan 2014, in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines, on May 5, 2014.
Protesters picket the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to coincide with the opening ceremony of the joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise dubbed Balikatan 2014, in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines, on May 5, 2014.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that dozens of left-wing activists protested outside the military camp where the opening ceremony was held.

They said the drills and a recently signed agreement that allows a larger U.S. military presence in the country would trample the Philippine Constitution, which prohibits foreign troops except when their presence is covered by a treaty.

“Our armed forces will not modernize just because we conduct war games with U.S. forces,'' said Renato Reyes, secretary-general of leftwing group Bayan (Nation).

“Our capacity to defend our territory against China will not be improved just because there are training exercises.”

On Saturday, a navy plane dropped food and water to troops stationed on a transport ship that ran aground on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. Chinese coast guard ships have set up a blockade around the shoal.

Nearly 5,500 American and Filipino troops are taking part in the two-week drills in different parts of the main island of Luzon. The war games will see U.S. F-18 fighters rehearse bombing runs and troops involved in live fire drills.

Under a new security pact, the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, signed last week during Obama's visit, the U.S. will have wider access to local bases and construct facilities to store supplies and equipment for 10 years in exchange for increased support on maritime security and humanitarian assistance.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
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.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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