Planned US-Philippines military exercises in Ilocos denounced
The National Democratic Front-Ilocos condemned the planned 38th Balikatan Exercises of Filipino and American soldiers to be staged in Ilocos Norte on April 24-27. Up to 16,000 soldiers are set to participate, according to initial news.
According to the NDF-Ilocos, this will be the second military exercise to be staged in Ilocos Norte. Previously, joint exercises of Philippine and US Marines were conducted in Currimao and Laoag City in June 2022.
According to Col. Michael Logico, who will lead the military exercise, they chose Barangay Bayog, Burgos as the “operational area” of the exercises. The coast of Bayog can be used as a site for coastal air defense. Live fire exercises to test new US military hardware are also planned to be conducted here.
According to the NDF-Ilocos, the exercises will endanger the Ilocano people and the Philippine sovereignty. They also warned against threats of environmental destruction that the exercises would bring including damage to coral reefs in the area. They said live fire exercises will imperil communities of fishermen and farmers.
US-RP Balikatan Exercises are conducted under the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement. In addition to Ilocos Norte, exercises are also set to be conducted in Fuga, Calayan and Batanes.