‘Balikatan not due to NoKor’By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Because many have been asking, the Philippine military said on Saturday it felt compelled to assert that the ongoing joint exercise between Philippine and United States forces was not borne out of the tension on the Korean peninsula nor was it directed at any nation.
The PH-US Balikatan exercise had long been planned before the issue on the Korean peninsula emerged,” said Maj. Emmanuel Garcia, spokesperson for the joint exercises.
“Balikatan is not directed toward nor against any nation. Its focus is on the humanitarian aspect which comprises two-thirds of the total number of main (exercise) events,” he said.
Garcia told the INQUIRER he found it imperative to issue a statement after being constantly asked if the Balikatan was called in answer to the crisis resulting from the warmongering by North Korea which has threatened to fire missiles at South Korea and US territories in the Asia Pacific.
According to Garcia, Balikatan events are categorized into community health engagements and infrastructure construction and repair, humanitarian assistance and disaster response with focus on typhoon and maritime disaster, and traditional military engagement and combat focused on expert exchanges by both sides.
“All of these are being done to upgrade the skills and knowledge of (Filipino and American) soldiers and enhance the interoperability of both militaries in responding appropriately and promptly not only to combat situations but more importantly to calamities and disasters,” Garcia said.