MANILA — A Palace official has clarified that the ongoing joint military exercises between the Philippines and the United States are not meant to challenge China’s military power.
Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Edwin Lacierda made the clarification after the Chinese tabloid Global Times ran an editorial labelling the Philippines “cute little submissive” of the US, a day after the joint military exercises, also called Balikatan, began.
“Of all the countries involved in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the Philippines is the one with the most tricks up its sleeves, but none of its tricks work. Can anyone believe that China can be bluffed to make compromises when others show off their military muscle? We will simply find it laughable while imagining Philippine personnel stumbling after US forces,” the English-language daily said.
“US-Philippine military drills have been conducted 31 times. But none has achieved effective leverage for Manila in the South China Sea. However, after being cute little submissive of the US for all these years, Manila has only gained a handful of second-hand weapons and an empty sense of security, let alone any real enhancement of its army combat capability. In the end, it has earned nothing but growing dependency on the US.”
Lacierda said the joint military exercises, which are being done in line with agreements with other countries, have been expanded.
“The Balikatan exercises have been ongoing for some time. It is not only for our military exercises. There has been noted emphasis on disaster response. So, our Balikatan exercises have been expanded to cover much more than military exercises. The fruits of these exercises were very tangible in the light of Typhoon Yolanda, when we saw our American friends helping us in the aftermath of the typhoon,” the Palace official explained.
Lacierda said the joint military exercises are being done for the good of the country.
“We recognize that China wants to make their own comment, that is their opinion. But we are not bound by their opinion and we certainly do not agree with how they described us,” he said, referring to the Global Times’ comments.
“I think our national interest should prevail over the comments made by that tabloid,” said Lacierda.
China claims sovereignty over most parts of the South China Sea. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan have overlapping claims.