Balikatan exercises with US to push through

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

THE Balikatan exercises between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and US troops will push through as scheduled in May.

Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, that the exercises will still fall within the 180-day period before the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

“It will push through as scheduled. Ang gusto nating sabihin dito that is within the 180-period pa naman. Magpapatuloy ito as scheduled,” he said.

“Walang mababawas sa original na plano ng number of attendees unless sa last minute may magsasabi na magbabago,” he added.

The official said a total of 10,875 soldiers will participate in the exercises, including 4,302 AFP personnel, 6,529 from the US forces and 44 from Australia.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier served to the United States Embassy in Manila a letter of intent to terminate the VFA.

The Philippines is scrapping the agreement on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, who was irked when the US canceled the visa of his loyal ally Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, a former PNP chief who was the principal implementor of the government’s drug war. (SunStar Philippines)