MANILA – This year’s “Balikatan” exercises, possibly the last with American forces, will push through, a military official said Wednesday.
“Ipagpapatuloy na natin yung (We will go ahead with) ‘Balikatan 2020’. It will push thru as scheduled,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said at the “Kapihan sa Manila Bay at Cafe Adriatico” forum.
He added that the advance contingent might arrive in April to prepare equipment and supplies to be used by participating troops in the joint military exercises set in May.
“(This year’s ‘Balikatan’) is within the 180-day period pa naman so magpapatuloy ito (so it can still continue) as scheduled. Walang mababawas sa original na nakaplano (there will no reduction in the original plan in the) in terms of (the) number of attendees until and unless last minute, magkakaroon ng pagbabago (unless there will be changes),” Arevalo said.
Arevalo was referring to the 180-period prior to the effectivity of the Visiting Forces Agreement’s (VFA) abrogation.
Washington DC formally received Manila’s termination notice for the VFA on February 11.
A total of 10,875 troops from the US, Philippines and Australia will be participating in this year’s exercises.
This can be broken down into 6,529 US forces; 4,302 from the AFP and 44 from the Australian Defense Force. (iam/sovereignph.com/PNA)