Balikatan not related to China dispute, Edca—official
MANILA, Philippines—Amid the unresolved territorial row with China and the ballyhooed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, one official from the United States Marine Corps maintained that the Balikatan Exercises have nothing to do with these issues.
Captain Alex Lim of the US Marine Corps said that Balikatan is solely for the purpose of training the two country’s armed forces.
“This is Balikatan, it has nothing to do with any agreement that’s being made right now,” Lim said Friday. “Right now it’s separate from all that, it is not related to any world issue right now.”
Lim also downplayed the issue that the exercise being conducted at the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales which is in close proximity to the disputed islands with China.
“That has nothing to do with it (the territorial dispute),” Lim, who is on his first Balikatan, said. “Proximity is not an issue.”
“There’s a body of water that we can do the amphibious operations” said Lim who described the operation as the “bread and butter” of the Philippine and US Marine Corps.
Lim pointed out that the Balikatan is solely for the improvement of both militaries from the two parties.
“Whatever we have that can enhance our training together,” Lim said. “Whatever that can make us better while working shoulder to shoulder.”
On Friday, scores of US and Filipino marines launched mock assaults in the waters of Zambales.
About 5,500 US and Filipino forces are taking part in the annual war games over a two-week period.
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