- Title: U.S.-Philippine joint military drills draw to a close
- Date: 11th October 2016
- Summary: ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF SOLDIERS SALUTING
- Embargoed: 26th October 2016 12:13
- Keywords: Philippines marine joint military drills military drills U.S closing ceremony security
- Location: MANILA, PHILIPPINES
- City: MANILA, PHILIPPINES
- Country: Philippines
- Topics: Defence,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00253K82TJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:U.S. and Philippine marines ended their annual military drills with a closing ceremony in Manila on Tuesday (October 11).
The 33rd Philippines-U.S. Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex) seeks to enhance interoperability between the two nations across different ranges of military operations, including humanitarian and disaster responses.
Military officials from both countries attended the closing ceremony and explained how the drills could improve future operations.
"It not only makes us better but more capable and effective as an integrated force that provides a capability that we might apply to our treaty obligations in the future, whether it be in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, assistance in internal security or in other types of crisis as determined by our two great nations," said U.S. Marine Brigadier General John Jansen.
Philippine Associate Justice Antonio Carpio was invited to speak to the troops and discussed a recently arbitration ruling against Beijing in the South China Sea.
Carpio, who was one of the lead counsel in the case filed in The Hague in 2013, told journalists he wanted the troops to know what they were fighting for.
An international court ruled in July that the Philippines has exclusive economic rights over parts of the South China Sea and junked Beijing's claims to almost all its islands.
China refused to participate in the arbitration and rejects the ruling.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the sea.
Carpio was asked about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's plan to stop the annual joint military exercises.
"The war games is a separate issue because that's a matter for the president to decide, but when it comes to the constitution and national interest, it's very clear that the constitution mandates and national interest requires that we protect our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), we patrol our EEZ," he said.
While Duterte has publicly suggested he would end joint military exercises, push U.S. special operations forces out of the southern Philippines, and review a defence pact signed two years ago, U.S. officials say that none of this has happened.
In his latest broadside, Duterte said on October 2 that he received expressions of support from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and from an unnamed Chinese official after he complained of ill-treatment by Washington.
Washington, along with the E.U. and the U.N., has criticised Duterte on his narcotics war which has killed more than 3,200 people and raising concerns on extrajudicial killings.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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