Umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) of leftist militant organizations said that Balikatan 2015 will take place amid the brewing dispute in the West Philippine Sea between China and the Philippines and will not benefit people of the Philippines.
“Our capacity to defend our territory against China will not be improved just because there are training exercises,” Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. said. “It is silly that China is even being mentioned since the US has expressed its non-committal to defend the Philippines in the event of an armed confrontation with China.”
Balikatan 2015 will start April 20 and will run until April 30. “The joint exercises are designed to increase our capability to defend our country from external aggression. It is to test how ready and how effective we can operate with our American allies in both humanitarian and security operations,” AFP-Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.
6,656 American soldiers, 5,023 Filipino soldiers and 61 Australian soldiers are expected to participate.