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'Balikatan 2012' not in response to ongoing Scarborough Shoal standoff - AFP

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The two-week "Balikatan 2012" civil-military exercise between Filipino and American troops is in no way connected to the ongoing maritime stalemate between the Philippines and China over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, one of the military spokespersons for the event said Sunday.

Major Emmanuel Garcia said that the activity has no connection to the ongoing situation in the West Philippine Sea.
"This event (Balikatan 2012) has been planned and prepared well before the Scarborough Shoal incident so it would be wrong to assume that it will be done in response to that," he stressed.

He said that this year's exercise with the United States military will focus more on maritime security, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian and disaster response activities.

according to Garcia, Philippine Navy Rear Admiral Emmanuel Martin will head the 2,300-strong Filipino delegation who will also be taught on how to use modern American military equipment.

On the other hand, the 4,500-strong American contingent will be taught by their Filipino counterparts on jungle survival skills.
“Balikatan 2012,” scheduled to be held from April 16 to 27, is the biggest combined military exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United States Pacific Command.

It aims to promote regional peace and security and improve the interoperability and contingency planning of both forces for defense in accordance with the Mutual Defense Treaty.

by: PNA




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