The Philippines and the United States militaries are planning for at least 500 bilateral engagements in 2024, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said yesterday.
The AFP and the US Indo-Pacific Command reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen ties amid tensions in the Indo-Pacific region during the annual Mutual Defense Board – Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) meeting on September 14 at Camp Aguinaldo.
The two countries discussed the inclusion of exercises and high-level exchanges for next year’s activities, which include maritime security, information sharing, and capacity and capability development among others.
For his part, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers and his brother, Governor Lyndon Barbers, on Saturday urged the AFP and the US military to inspect the province for possible consideration as an additional EDCA site.
“Our province is situated on the Northeastern tip of Mindanao facing the Pacific Ocean. Its deep waters can accommodate the huge naval ships of the United States,” the lawmaker said in a statement.
Rep. Barbers said Surigao del Norte has a distinct advantage as it is openly facing the Pacific Ocean yet has an outlet to the West Philippine Sea.
“The ships can traverse the country from East to West and vice-versa without needing to circle around. This is a very strategic advantage. Military presence will discourage any hostile activity and even posturing by foreign forces, both civilian or otherwise,” he added. — Charles Dantes and Maricel Cruz
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