From InterAksyon (May 9): Balikatan 33 officially opens
Lieutenant General Oscar Lactao, US Ambassador Sung Y. Kim, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ariel Abadilla, General Eduardo Año, and Lieutenant General Lawrence Nicholson at the opening ceremony for Balikatan 33 in Camp Aguinaldo. (US Embassy photo)
MANILA, Philippines — The 33rd edition of the Balikatan joint military exercises with the United States officially opened in Camp Aguinaldo Monday.
The opening of Balikatan 33-2017 was graced by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ariel Abadilla, US Ambassador Sung Kim and Philippine and American military officers.
The May 8 to 19 exercises will take place in locations in Luzon and the Visayas and will involve “high value training events designed to enhance the capabilities of both AFP and US armed forces,” a statement from the US embassy said.
The training will focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and counterterrorism operations.
Prior to the opening, troops from both countries began work in mid-April in Panay, Leyte, and Samar where they renovated five schools and conducted community medical engagements.
“No nation can face today’s challenges alone,” Kim said in the statement. “Whether a natural disaster ravages part of the world or a man-made crisis shocks a community, our two militaries can deliver much stronger responses together.”
In the counterterrorism aspect, US and Philippine forces “will conduct operational and counterterrorism training exercises in diverse areas of expertise, including live fire advanced marksmanship, counter improvised explosive devices, maritime interdiction, and amphibious raids.”
The military of South Korea, East Timor, Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom have also been invited to be part of the International Observers Program of this year’s Balikatan.