US, Australian war games in the Philippines continue

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Balikatan 39-24 officially ended on May 10 but thousands of American soldiers remain on Philippine soil and waters for the second series of Salaknib-24 that started back in April. The US will “quietly” launch many more subsequent war games in the country. Australian soldiers are still in the country for the Kasangga exercise.

On May 11, the Salaknib was conducted in the town of Basco, Batanes. Under the guise of a “port improvement project”, the US Army and the Philippine Army began hauling stones from the Basco port. The said dock is being touted as a “civilian port” but will in fact serve US warships. The port adds to other facilities being built by the US in Chadpidan, Basco and in San Rafael, Itbayat and Mavulis Island.

At the same time, the Kasangga exercises between the Philippine Army and the Australian Defense Force (ADF) with the participation of 100 Filipino troops and 50 Australian soldiers started on May 13 at the headquarters of the 5th ID in Gamu, Isabela, and will last until June 21.

The war games will include firing of mortars and drone operations that will surely cause unrest in communities, as well as “anti-terrorism operations” focused mainly against farmers and activists.

Meanwhile, the US will launch the RimPac war games in various parts of Asia and the US from June 29 to August 4. RimPac (Rim of the Pacific) has been described as the world’s “largest naval war games”. The Philippines will be participating.

Anti-Balikatan 39-24

At the end of Balikatan on May 10, various groups burned the US imperialist flag before the AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. They condemned the US for trampling on Philippine sovereignty, its human rights violations, and dragging the Philippines into its war with imperialist rival China. Groups also protested and hung streamers in Ilocos Norte where the last leg of the Balikatan was held from May 6.

Meanwhile, the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) in Australia and Katipunan ng Gurong Makabayan (Kaguma) launched their respective activities to denounce Balikatan. KM painted graffiti at the US consulate in Melbourne in the first week of May.

Kaguma members hung a large streamer on a bridge in Malibay, Pasay on May 10. It bannered the calls “Fight the imperialist war! Promote the people’s democratic revolution!”

US, Australian war games in the Philippines continue