Civilian concerns of Balikatan 2015 highlighted
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has chosen to highlight the civilian aspect of this year’s war games with the United States military amid China’s aggressive expansion in territorial waters being claimed by the Philippines and other countries in Asia.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the 31st edition of the Balikatan would take place between April 20 and 30 and would focus not only on military exercises but also on disaster preparedness and public services.
In an interview with DZRB radio, Coloma said that the Balikatan 2015 would involve the construction of school buildings and service provision to towns and provinces that would host the visiting US troops.
“They will conduct a few training courses for first responders and seminars for public services such as community health nursing, common diseases during calamities and accidents, healthy lifestyle tips to address public health concerns,” said Coloma.
Coloma said that under the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief or HADR program, the Balikatan participants would conduct structural assessment of sea ports and airports in Capiz, Aklan, and Iloilo that were damaged by supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
“If by coincidence there are particular issues or challenges being faced at present, this (Balikatan) will still be done as part of our goal to heighten the preparedness of the two countries to ensure full readiness to respond to whatever challenges we face,” said Coloma.
Coloma was referring to recent reports showing China’s continuous reclamation activities in disputed sea borders that both the US and the Philippines have publicly criticized. SFM/AC
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