WATCH: #Balikatan2018 speeches celebrate PH-US ties
MANILA, Philippines – The annual Balikatan exercises between the Philippine and United States militaries formally opened on Monday morning, May 7.
Up to 8,000 troops from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, US Pacific Command, Australian Defense Force, and the Japan Self-Defense Forces are participating.
It's the second under President Rodrigo Duterte, who at the start of his term threatened to end the military exercises. Ties between the two countries have since improved.
'We hope to improve our counter-terrorism capabilities in order to build safer communities and work towards the eradication of global terror networks.'
– Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
'Balikatan 2018 will continue to reinforce the deep and lasting commitment between our two countries for a peaceful and secure region.'
– US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim
'The Balikatan exercise has done so much to enhance our nations' inter-operability in joint and combined operations and project a posture of readiness to combat any threat.'
– AFP chief General Carlito Galvez Jr
'The Balikatan exercise manifests the longstanding relationship between the Philippine and United States armed forces.'
– AFP Nolcom chief Lieutenant General Emmanuel Salamat
'Our job is to be ready. Whether that threat is man-made or mother nature, we have to be ready to response. That is the great essence of Balikatan.'
– US Pacific Command Lieutenant General Lawrence Nicholson