Philippines, US increase number of bilateral exercises for 2018
The Philippines and United States have increased the number of bilateral exercises for 2018.
Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said the United States and Philippines have agreed on how many bilateral exercises will be conducted next year during the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board meeting in Hawaii last week.
“A total of 261 activities composed of exchanges, exercises, from 258 to 261 meaning to say we level up the activities,” he said.
Ano said the bilateral exercises include “territorial defense, HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster response) and countering terrorism.”
The increase in number of exercises was agreed few days after President Rodrigo Duterte promised to be friendlier with the United States in his speech during 116th anniversary of the Balangiga Encounter Day in Eastern Samar last week.
Last year, Duterte criticized the previous administration of the United States and ordered to stop war games with the American forces.
“No that was last year (referring to Duterte’s order to decrease exercises with the US). Every year it changes. Like the president said I want to be friendlier to US. After all US is not our enemy. China is also not our enemy. That is our utmost priority is the interest of the country, that’s all,” said Ano.
“What he (Duterte) only said is to continue engagement with United States. They are still our number one ally and whatever is the provision of the treaty carry out,” he added referring to the order from the president. Robina Asido/DMS