US, PH Marines affirm value of Balikatan

Nony Basco, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 11 2016 02:03 PM

Officials of the Philippine and U.S. armed forces on Monday reiterated the value of the Balikatan exercises as the two groups held joint military exercises in San Jose, Antique.

Western Command chief Vice Adm. Alexander Lopez, the Philippines' exercise director for Balikatan, said that the war games would enhance the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through the adoption of modern military technology and hardware.

The exercise, Lopez added, also aims to enhance the interoperability of the two countries during humanitarian crises and disaster response.

Filipino and American Marines from the joint rapid reaction force concluded the amphibious beach landing exercise in the coastline of Barangay Funda early Monday.

Lt. Gen. John Toolan, commander of U.S. Marine Corps forces in the Pacific, said this event is also in line with the aim of establishing tactics, techniques, and procedures for efficient calamity response.

Toolan said government troops were able to implement a coherent plan and establish command and control over Panay island in response to a scenario of humanitarian crisis.

He also stressed the iron-clad commitment of the U.S. forces when asked about their possible move should any country invade the Philippines.

Both Lopez and Toolan, however, denied that this year's Balikatan -- the biggest ever war games between the Philippine and American forces -- is related to territorial issues in the South China Sea.

READ: U.S. rejects South China Sea exclusion zone

The Balikatan exercises will run until April 15, Friday.