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Posts Tagged ‘balikatan exercise in bicol’

Press Release from Senate of the Philippines 14th Congress
January 11, 2009

Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero today cautioned the government to stick to humanitarian missions alone of the 2009 RP-US Balikatan military exercises in the Bicol provinces in April this year.

The Balikatan exercises have been arranged for engineering and medical missions in the provinces of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon.

While Escudero, Senate Committee Chairman of Justice and Human Rights said the aim of the Balikatan exercises would benefit many locals, especially those who have been severely affected by disasters in previous years, he remains wary of other agenda that may be concealed from the public.

“Our government better make sure that this exercise will adhere to the terms it has been devoted to and not use it as front for other endeavors that may antagonize and stir indifference from various sectors.”

Escudero, for one refers to the insurgency problem in the Bicol region with New People’s Army on the other end of the government concerns.

While the senator admits that the insurgency problem in Bicol still persists and needs to be addressed in all fronts, he said the government should keep external forces out of this matter.

“The Balikatan should avoid at all cost any intervention that may straddle in our internal affairs. The insurgency issue in Bicol, and in any part of the country for that matter, remains the national government’s concern and responsibility. Any outside force touching it meddles with our sovereignty”.

The senator also cautioned US soldiers joining the exercises to conduct themselves in the true manner of an officer and a gentleman and adhere to the laws governing the country and its people.

“The Balikatan should not leave any single Filipino disadvantaged in any form or manner. Both sides should make sure that they finish the exercises without any untoward incidents”.

Escudero, who is a Bicolano himself also appealed to all locals and the armed sectors of the province to let the military humanitarian mission proceed peacefully.

“Let no one antagonize any one. If this mission is really for medical and engineering endeavors, let us not get in the way of helping our fellowmen who have suffered from the devastation of previous disasters.”###

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RP, US announce April Balikatan Exercises 2009 in Bicol
By Celso Amo Updated January 08, 2009 03:30 PM

LEGAZPI CITY—Representatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States have announced that the Balikatan Exercise this year will be conducted this coming April in the Bicol region.

Major Llewellyn Binasoy, chief of the Research and Special Concerns Division of the Civil Military Operations of the AFP, said the Balikatan Exercise, which is an annual bilateral military exercise between the Philippines and the United States for the past 15 years will be held in April.

“At present, both forces are now in the process of detailed planning in consultation with local stakeholders to ensure the success of the scheduled Balikatan Exercise 2009,” said Binasoy during a press briefing at the conference room of the Venezia Hotel here this morning.

Binasoy said the primary objective of the exercise is to improve the inter-operability of both forces for mutual defense in accordance with the Mutual Defense Treaty.

“While the primary function remains to make both forces ready to aid each other, the conduct of the exercise has evolved and is continuously evolving,” Binasoy said, adding that for this year, the Balikatan Exercise will help communities in the Bicol Region by conducting medical, dental, veterinary and other humanitarian assistance like repair of school buildings, put up water systems and construct farm to market roads.

Capt. Kelly Schmader, commander of the 13th Naval Construction Regiment of the United States Pacific Fleet, said that some 450 US personnel will be joining the military exercises.

Thee cost of the project is shouldered jointly by both parties with the US allotting some $450,000.

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