About 5,000 American and Philippine troops will maintain humanitarian exercises as a substitute of struggle video games, as a consequence of President Duterte’s dislike for his nation’s longstanding defence alliance with the USA.
Troops participating in “Balikatan” will simulate a response to a brilliant storm, modelled on storm Haiyan in 2013, which killed at the least 6,300 individuals and left greater than 200,000 households homeless.
“Balikatan is designed to meet current challenges facing the Philippines,” US embassy press officer Molly Koscina stated in a press release right now (Monday, April 24).
Duterte makes no secret of his grudge in opposition to the United States and believes any military presence within the Philippines places his nation in danger of being dragged into battle. He has threatened to rip-up treaties with Washington, however has but to comply with by means of.
At the identical time, the president has reached out to Russia and China and invited their warships to come back to the Philippines for exercises too.
Balikatan, which implies “shoulder-to-shoulder”, has taken place on 32 events and yearly since 2000, involving typical warfare activities, as half of a mutual defence treaty between the 2 international locations underneath a 1951 safety pact.
Nearly 9,000 troops participated in a simulation of retaking an oil-and-gas platform final 12 months and practised an amphibious touchdown.
A Philippine military spokesman stated the downsizing of the exercises was in response to Duterte’s dislike of struggle video games with Washington. “We made some adjustments, based on the pronouncements of the president that such exercises should be focused on humanitarian operations,” Major Frank Sayson stated.
“Just to make it clear, this is not a war game.”
He added that the 2 armies would additionally work on marksmanship and defusing of do-it-yourself bombs, to spice up counter-terrorism capabilities.