MANILA – Malacanang has announced that the Philippines and the United States will start their 31st edition of the Balikatan Exercises on Monday, April 20.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Sunday the Balikatan Exercises started since 1951 based on the Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries.
”It is called Balikatan or shoulder-to-shoulder exercises of the two countries with the objective of achieving peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region,” Coloma said in a state-run Radyo ng Bayan interview.
Coloma said the exercises also aim to prepare the two countries to respond to any kind of crisis and calamities which bring danger to the people through cooperation.
He said that also part of the exercises is the construction of schools and to deliver services to the people living in the areas where the two countries will hold the military exercises.
”They will also conduct some trainings for the first responders and seminars regarding the community health nursing, common diseases in the time of calamities and accidents, and healthy lifestyle to identify and respond to any health problems,” the PCOO chief added.
Coloma said that according to the Department of National Defense, part of the HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) program is to conduct structural assessment of the ports and airports in the provinces of Capiz, Aklan and Iloilo affected by typhoon “Yolanda” in November 2013.