PH, US exercises to continue ensuring free navigation in Spratlys area – Palace
MANILA, Philippines — With US President Barack Obama’s reelection, joint military exercises between Philippine and American troops would continue as part of the United States’ pivot to Asia, Malacañang said Thursday.
“We have recently had a number of joint exercises by reason of the Visiting Forces Agreement. We will be part of that. It’s part of their orientation since we are a strategic partner of the United States. We’re expected to also hold exercises with the US forces,’’ Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, said in a briefing.
Such exercises, he added, would also ensure “freedom of navigation’’ in the South China Sea.
After meeting Aquino in the United States last June, following the standoff with China over Panatag Shoal, Obama said Manila and Washington would consult together as part of the US’ pivot back to Asia.
Last month, Aquino promised Philippine cooperation in the US “policy of re-balancing’’ in the region.
In the face of Beijing’s growing might, Washington saw the necessity to re-balance toward the Asia-Pacific region and deploy 60 percent of the Navy’s fleet to the Pacific by 2020.
The Obama administration has helped the Philippines upgrade its military equipment for its own defense while the Philippines has agreed to allow American troops and ships to rotate through the country.
Meanwhile, Aquino did not see the need to call Obama on his reelection after writing him a letter, Lacierda said.
“I think the letter is sufficient,’’ he said.
Lacierda said the President chose to write, instead of call, Obama in view of the flurry of calls he’d get from other world leaders on his rousing victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
In the letter sent to the White House through the Department of Foreign Affairs Wednesday afternoon, the President said he looked forward to “deeper cooperation’’ with Obama in his second term.