The Balikatan or shoulder-to-shoulder joint military exercises between the US and Philippine military starts on Monday, April 16, and will last for nearly two weeks, involving some 6,800 Filipino and US soldiers. The exercises have been a regular activity but this year’s come amid the Philippines’ continuing standoff with China in the disputed Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal). Both the US and Philippine governments have allayed fears that these exercises are meant to provoke China, pointing out that these will focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster response drills. Critical Filipino groups have staged street protests against the Balikatan.
Read more on Rappler here, here and here.