MANILA, Philippines — The success of the just concluded Balikatan exercise was “a testament to the strength of the US-Philippine alliance,” US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson said yesterday.
“Balikatan is an incredible accomplishment,” she said in her remarks during the ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo marking the conclusion of the 38th iteration of the Philippine-US joint military exercise.
Carlson called the joint drill “a milestone,” considering the number of personnel involved – 17,600 Filipino, American and Australian military forces – assembled for an endeavor aimed at “increasing our capability to work together on land, at sea and in the air.”
She noted that in the past years there have been more threats to the Southeast Asian region than there were in decades. The threats include China’s growing aggressiveness in the South China Sea.
“These include challenges to the rules-based international order via provocations in the South China Sea, as well as global issues like climate change, environmental degradation and water scarcity,” she said.
“The Philippines is our oldest treaty ally in East Asia and largest recipient of security assistance in East Asia, and the US-Philippine alliance plays an irreplaceable role in addressing these threats,” Carlson stressed.
She said that based on geography, demographics and the economy, “you can see that what happens in the Philippines is critical to what happens in the Indo-Pacific and the world.”
Carlson emphasized that the shared resolve of the Philippines and the US to address threats together as embodied in the Mutual Defense Treaty is just one pillar in the US-Philippine relationship.
“We are also partners, working together to address challenges like job creation, technological innovation and environmental sustainability. The economic ties between the United States and the Philippines have created hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs for Filipinos,” she said.
“The United States is the Philippines’ largest export market. American investments have also helped grow important sectors of the economy across Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao,” she added.
Source : Philstar