FILIPINO soldiers will continue to hold military exercises with American troops despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements that such engagements with the US will stop.
On Monday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the President approved his Cabinet’s recommendations to continue the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and some joint exercises between the Philippines and the US.
“Practically in-approve naman nya lahat ng aming recommendations. Ang recommendation namin, the exercises will go on, except bawasan natin ng major exercises involving mga landing exercise (He practically approved all of our recommendations. The exercises will go on, except that we will cut down on major exercises involving landing exercises),” Lorenzana told reporters.
He added that the Balikatan (Should-to-shoulder) exercises that focus mostly on counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster response will also continue.
“Ang balikatan… same, total 1,000 [troops]each remains the same,” Lorenzana said.
The President, he said, also agreed to continue the implementation of EDCA, which allows the US to use temporary facilities in the country.
“It will remain],” Lorenzana said when asked about the implementation of the defense deal between the Philippines and the US.
Duterte earlier said he might rescind the implementation of EDCA, noting that it does not bear the signature of his predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
EDCA, which seeks to boost the alliance between the Philippines and the US, was signed by Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in 2014.