The Philippines will begin a 12-day bilateral military exercise with the United States today (Monday).
In a statement, the Philippine Marine Corps said the 6th iteration of its “Kamandag” – abbreviation for “Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma ng Dagat” – exercises with the US Armed Forces throughout Luzon will run until Oct. 14.
The PMC said this will be the first time military personnel from Japan and South Korea will join the said exercises, but only as observers.
The exercises aim to “enhance bilateral cooperation and interoperability among participating forces in the conduct of combined tactical operations that focus on capacitating the Marine Amphibious Ready Unit and enhancing their capabilities in Special Operations, Coastal Defense Capability, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) Operations, and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Operations.”
For its part, the US Marine Corps said it will be deploying 5,500 of its personnel to join the exercises, with the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Division in Japan to exercise command and control.
“These exercises will allow our forces to strengthen interoperability and readiness to ensure we are prepared to rapidly respond to crises throughout the Indo-Pacific,” 3rd Marine Division commander Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron said.
Meanwhile, the re-examination, instead of revision, of the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement topped the 7-Point Plan that Sen. Imee Marcos unveiled during a roundtable forum in Washington D.C. this week.
“Do not make us choose between the US and China,” Marcos told a largely American assembly at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) where leading think tanks, embassies, companies, and universities took part in the forum.
The presidential sister, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the Philippines and its Southeast Asian neighbors are calling for a “rational approach” to navigating relations between Washington and Beijing to prevent a return to the “melodrama” of the Cold War.