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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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