Start of US-Philippines military exercise, protest

Start of US-Philippines military exercise, protest

Manila – 20 April 2015
1. Various of Philippine and US soldiers carrying their respective flags
2. Sign projected on wall reading (English) “Philippines – United States Exercise Balikatan 2015 Opening Ceremony”
3. Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, Balikatan Philippines Exercise Director, approaching lectern
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, Balikatan Philippine Exercise Director:
“This yearly exercise has evolved to address the changing strategic environment where both our countries are linked. It also supports the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) goal of developing its capacity and capability, enhancing interoperability between our armed forces.”
5. Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez finishing his speech, crowd applauding
6. Cameras filming
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Brigadier General Christopher Mahoney, Balikatan US Assistant Exercise Director:
“Balikatan and many other exercises that we conduct throughout the year are concrete examples of how like-minded nations can work cooperatively together to address our common interests and concerns while at the same time holding a sharp edge on military capabilities.”
8. Various of protesters holding signs reading “No to Balikatan!” and “US troops out now” and “US troops toxic to environment”
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Renato Reyes, protest leader:
“The US is trying to exploit our problem with China so that the US can assert its own imperial interests, not just in the Philippines but in the entire Asian region.”
Subic Bay, Olongapo City – 14 April 2015
10. US ship in dock
11. Various of military vehicles lifted off US ship
The Philippine and United States armies formally opened their 31st Balikatan exercises on Monday in which over 11-thousand troops from both countries will participate.
The Balikatan, or shoulder-to-shoulder, exercises are an annual training activity aimed at interoperability of the two armed forces.
This year, the US have assigned 76 aircraft and three ships for the exercises while the Philippine military has earmarked 15 aircrafts and one ship.
The exercises however have been met with opposition.
Protest groups marched on the US Embassy on Monday, claiming that the US wants to continue with the exercises and increase its military presence in the Philippines in order to advance its own economic and geopolitical interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
This year’s Balikatan is also the first major training with Filipino troops since a US soldier was charged with murdering a transgender Filipino in October last year.
Scott Pemberton was bar-hopping with fellow Marines at the time after taking part in joint US-Philippines military exercises.
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