US, PH hold military drills under Duterte

US, PH hold military drills under Duterte

The US and Philippine militaries have begun their largest Balikatan military exercises since President Duterte came to power.

This was despite the Philippine leader wanting to scale down America's military presence and involvement in combat drills as he sought closer ties with China and Russia.

In this year's Balikatan exercises, 5,000 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and 3,000 servicemen from the US Marines, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Force will participate in the two-week maneuvers that started on May 7 and will end on the 18th.

After backlash over the ban on media coverage of the Balikatan, Salamat retracted the decision, saying reporters would be allowed to witness the drills in several areas within the Northern Luzon.

San Antonio is a town located on the western side of Luzon, facing the West Philippine Sea.

The drills will focus on defense cooperation, the fight against terrorism, and humanitarian and disaster response.

"This exercise was scheduled already whether those missiles were there or not and again, this is region of change". In fighting with Islamist governmental forces of the Philippines lost more than 160 military, more than 1.7 thousand were injured, destroyed more than 800 fighters. The annual military training exercises are being conducted under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) signed nearly 70 years ago, after the US relinquished control of its former colony.

"We want both our forces to learn from our great and hard-earned experience in our past battles like Marawi", said Phillippines' Marine Lieutenant General Emmanuel Salamat, according to ABC News.

"Through this exercise, we hope to improve our counter-terrorism capabilities in order to build safer communities and work toward the eradication of global terror networks", the secretary said.

As we reported last year, a leaked transcript of a call between the two leaders showed Trump praising Duterte's anti-drug efforts.

The exercises are "just one of many embodiments of our robust relationship", US Ambassador Sung Kim said.

Up to 8,000 troops from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, US Pacific Command, Australian Defense Force, and the Japan Self-Defense Forces are participating.