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‘Balikatan 2014’ ends

With the 21st century presenting complex security challenges, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff  Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said the only way to overcome these threats is by working “shoulder-to-shoulder” with allies.

Bautista made the statement at the closing ceremony of the “Balikatan 2014” in Camp Aguinaldo Friday morning after two weeks of combat and disaster-relief training.

“Today’s complex and dynamic security environment presents challenges that no nation or armed forces can face alone. These are the challenges of the 21st century, and these include maritime security and climate change,” Bautista stressed.

He added that the just concluded exercises showed that the only way to address these threats is for everyone to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, “in the spirit of global Bayanihan”.

“Through the exercises that we conducted, the Philippines and the United States jointly developed a platform for regional engagement; enhanced our military capabilities; learned from each other and advanced interoperability and capacity in joint planning execution,” he added.

“Likewise, the exercises emphasized that as friends and allies, the Philippines and the United States will act in a collective capacity to safeguard international peace and security, and to ensure that territorial integrity and sovereignty are respected.”

ENDURING ALLIANCE

“The Balikatan 2014 once again proved that the enduring alliance between the Philippines and the United States is a pillar for peace in Southeast Asia and the greater Asia Pacific,” Bautista stated.

Over 7,000 soldiers – 4,800 Filipinos and 2,500 Americans – participated in the annual Balikatan exercise that started a week after the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the state visit of US President Barack Obama.

For a while, a contingent from the Australian Defence Force participated in the exercises which is now on its 30th year.

The exercise was conducted amid simmering tensions between Philippines and China over territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea. But Philippine and US officials stressed Balikatan activities were not directed at any particular country.

US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Brian L. Goldbeck, for his part, congratulated the Filipino, America, and Australian troops for the success of the exercise.

“Balikatan is not just about our militaries. It is about our people and about the friendships, camaraderie and ties that develop on a person-to-person level,” he said.

Goldbeck noted that it is the spirit of friendship and camaraderie that “motivated the defenders of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942,… that kept the Philippines resistance fighting, … that brought peace to Mindanao, and the same spirit that responded to typhoon Yolanda.”

“And it is that same spirit that will keep our alliance moving forward into the 21st century,” he further said.

OTHER COUNTRIES

Meanwhile, BK14 Exercise Director for Philippines, Maj. Gen. Emeraldo Magnaye and his US counterpart, Major Gen. Richard Simcock II, deputy commander of US Marine Corps Forces Pacific said other countries are welcome to participate in the annual event.

“We don’t have a definite country yet but we are open to more participation,” said Magnaye, noting that since Australia started participating they will definitely be invited in the next Balikatan.

“The Asia-Pacific region is evolving, it’s evolving very very rapidly and large exercises like Balikatan need to also evolve at a commensurate rate… When it evolves and other nations are asked to come in and participate, we encourage that we look forward to the opportunity to work together with all nations within the nation” Simcock said.

Apart from the military exercises, the Balikatan also held a series of staff exercises in Camp Aguinaldo and the Western Command in Puerto Princesa in Palawan and humanitarian and civic assistance activities in various areas in the country.

Last Friday, a joint Philippines and US Marines amphibious drill was held at the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales. Combined live-fire exercises were also held at the Marine Base in Ternate, Cavite and in Crow Valley, Tarlac.

In Bicol, troops from the AFP Southern Luzon Command took the lead in the construction of a health center, two-room classroom building, water catchment system and concreting of sidewalk in Malobago Elementary School, and another one-room school building in Doña Mercedes Elementary School all in Guinobatan, Albay, among others.

  • kwaknit

    hangang balikatan lang tayio pero walang aksyon sa airstrip at military base ginagawa sa China..PWE!!!poro diplomacy at diplomacy ang gobyerno ng Pinas..at sa corruption at nakaw ng pera sa kaban ng Bayan diyan tayo magaling diyan..what a SHAME!!!

    • Norton

      Tama! Kailan pa sila kikilos!

    • doubting tomas

      Tapos na ang Balikwatan este….Balikatan…yung mga kano
      diretso na sa Gapo…daming goodtime at ding – a – ling dun..

      • James Sandoval

        “bulikatan”, ka ‘mu.

  • aegis

    duwag kasi mga leaders natin, inaagaw na teritoryo natin gusto eh usap usap lang, para bang inaagaw na sa kanya yun asawa nya eh OK lang kahit ano gawin mo , basta mahinahon pa din,hahaha wala kasi mga balls, magaling lang sa kurakot, dapat yun mga duwag at kurakot nilalagay sa firing squad as luneta eh. puro porma wala naman wenta!!

    • walong2

      haha. not in Luneta. Luneta is a sacred place where Rizal was killed. RP leaders are truly big traitors and therefore have no place in Luneta.

      • Norton

        Then sa Payatas ganapin ang firing squad…. hahah!

    • James Sandoval

      head on with china? parang si david naghahamon ng gyera kay golayat. pare, kung hindi mu kaya ang pang-aapi ng kalaban mong malaki pa sayu, idaan mo na sa batas . . .
      nag iisa tayo sa international court, ang china nga takot humarap sa atin . . . ngayon, duwag kaya tayo?

  • Markov Chain

    well, vietnamese have balls of steel and will never be conquered. Filipinos on the other hand are all talk.

  • doubting tomas

    Funny while they are blowing all this ” Balikatan ” smoke,
    sneaky Beijing is building a military base just a
    snot – spit distance from the coast of Palawan.

    Wonder when they are going to put all that
    military exercises to good use ??

    At least Vietnam is doing something which
    shows exactly how its people feel.

    • Yer

      i agree.

    • walong2

      I agree. Filipinos are ballsless and spineless (I stand corrected, lol), they talk more about politics and politicians,especially the lawmakers and even past presidents, think nothing but how to enrich themselves thereby making their poor people getting poorer and poorer and the poor country being invaded by China little by little and yet no concrete steps were taken to counter it. They don’t even bothered about the way China is treating their country. They don’t care – for as long as they have the money – they’re fine. If they really cared enough they should have given up their pork budget and spend it to beef up their military forces, but not even a single centavo out of if have been let off. And here comes the return of the US forces back to RP that was ushered by its Bostonian grown RP president, Pres. Aquino, who is very apparent a Chinese descendant, but his heart and soul is truly a real Filipino. I salute the President for his courageous acts in defending the country against the invasion of China into the country’s territory!

      • James Sandoval

        . . . among spratly’s claimants, Philippines has made it to international court. we have balls and its made of iron.

    • James Sandoval

      . . . in the world of educated modern civilization, going with the international law is the right avenue of approach , don’t worry . . . .
      the conduct of “balikatan” is to insure the preparedness of our troops, not to attack. riot is not a ‘war games’, it is vietnam’s kind of response, we have ours too, just wait . . .

      • doubting tomas

        “balikatan” is to insure the preparedness of our troops, ???

        Guess we’re caught flat – footed and sleeping when
        China poured concrete on Mabini Reef just off
        Palawan. How much more preparedness do we need?
        We have been having these Balikatans for so long
        already, don’t you think it’s time to put it to use ??