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US to respond ‘within hours’ to Philippine sovereignty threats

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The United States yesterday vowed to come to the aid of the Philippines “within a matter of hours” in the event that the sovereignty of its Southeast Asian ally is challenged.

Brig Gen. Paul Kennedy, chief of the US 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, said the two countries have had close defense ties in the last 64 years since signing the Mutual Defense Treaty.

“Our mutual security has been upheld to the close working relationship that we have forged in that time,” Kennedy said during the opening of this year’s Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) in Fort Bonifacio.

“I would tell you that if anybody would challenge the sovereignty of this country, their best friends within this region would respond within a matter of hours and generally I assure you that that is not a hollow promise,” he added.

The Philippines is embroiled in a territorial dispute with China, which is claiming almost 90 percent of the potentially oil-and-gas-rich South China Sea.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines have overlapping claims in the area, where more than $5 trillion worth of trade passes through annually.

The Philippines has questioned what it described as China’s exaggerated territorial claim before an international arbitral tribunal but the Chinese government has refused to answer the complaint.

The US has vowed to remain neutral on the dispute but has repeatedly called on China to adhere to the rule of law.

A total of 748 Philippine Marines and 860 of their American counterparts will participate in the PHIBLEX drills to be held from Oct. 1 to 9. This year’s drills constitute the 32nd iteration of the bilateral exercise.

Training will be conducted in Ternate, Cavite; Crow Valley, Tarlac; San Antonio, Zambales and Palawan to enhance the interoperability of the two forces and their readiness to provide assistance during calamities.

Boat raid drills will be held at the Arrecife Island in Sofronio Española, Palawan while mechanized assault exercises will be conducted at the Naval Education Training Center in Zambales. Live fire exercise will also be conducted in Crow Valley.

Maj. Gen. Alexander Balutan, commander of the Philippine Marine Ready Force, said the combined training would enable the military to improve its services to the public.

“In training we are not only investing in individual Marines, but we are also investing in the future of our country. To me, honing your skills is not only a crucial requisite to rendering better service to the people, but also a reward to oneself as it forms you into a better man,” he said.

“Sense of pride should make you be at your best in your field of work because training is not far from doing our work, the actual operational environment,” he added.

Kennedy said the drills would enable them to learn new lessons that they can apply to the increasingly complex security environment.

“The Philippine Marine Corps and US Marine Corps are absolutely rock solid partners as we train in security cooperation within the region,” the US military official said.

“These lessons are becoming more and more acute and remind us of the seriousness of the business that we have at hand,” he added.                        

 

vuukle comment

ACIRC

ALEXANDER BALUTAN

ARRECIFE ISLAND

BRIG GEN

CROW VALLEY

FORT BONIFACIO

MARINE CORPS

MARINE EXPEDITIONARY BRIGADE

MUTUAL DEFENSE TREATY

NAVAL EDUCATION TRAINING CENTER

NBSP

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