Northern Luzon areas eyed as venue for 'Balikatan' 2024

By Priam Nepomuceno

February 12, 2024, 11:39 am

<p>Philippine Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad<em> (PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)</em></p>

Philippine Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad (PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)

MANILA – Organizers of this year's "Balikatan" exercises are considering parts of Northern Luzon including Mavulis Island in Batanes provinces to serve as a venue of the annual drills, a military official said Sunday.

"Ang ating exercises ay iniikot natin sa ibat ibang parte ng Pilipinas. Right now, kino-consider ang mga outlying areas natin kasi nga sabi ko nga kanina, externally-oriented na tayo. So pati sa ating exercises. One of the areas being considered is Northern Luzon. Kino-consider pa lamang at wala pang final na desisyon (Our exercises rotate to different parts of the Philippines. Right now, our outlying areas are being considered as we are now externally oriented. So this means our exercises also are geared at such. One of the areas being considered is Northern Luzon. It is still being considered and there is no final decision yet)," Philippine Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said in an interview with DZRH.

Asked about Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.’s instructions to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to expand its presence in Batanes, Trinidad said this is due to the waning threats posed by the communist insurgency.

With this development, the AFP is now shifting its focus from being "internally oriented to externally oriented", he added.

"We could now focus on the greater task of defense and security na palabas ang (with an outward) orientation," Trinidad said.

Trinidad, meanwhile, echoed the DND's position that China has no business with how the Philippines would plan its defense and security posture, saying this move is "all part and parcel of securing what is ours."

This is in response to Beijing's warning for Manila "not to play with fire" over the issue of Taiwan, which is near Batanes, the country's northernmost province.

"China’s pronouncements and acts are the main reasons for its low credibility with the Filipino people. China should refrain from engaging in provocative rhetoric and activities if it truly wants to earn the widespread trust and respect that it is trying so hard to gain but has, so far, been unable to," the DND said. (PNA)