MANILAAside from sharing military expertise, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez urged all foreign participants in this year's "Balikatan" to enjoy the traditional Filipino hospitality.
"On a lighter note, I encourage our foreign participants to feel at home and join our world- renowned filipino hospitality. You will find that our proud heritage and culture is not that far from yours. That we all share the same beliefs and principles of honor, service, and patriotism," he said during Monday's opening ceremonies.
In this year's "Balikatan" exercises, around 5,000 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors from the AFP along with 3,000 coming the US Marines, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Force will be participating in the two-week maneuvers from May 7 to 18.
Around 20 personnel from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and 60 from the Australian Defence Forces will also participate as observers in the above-mentioned exercises.
"In closing, allow me to quote the former US President Bill Clinton, 'We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter but our common humanity matters more,' " Galvez said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said that this year's "Balikatan" will focus on inter-operability training to address traditional and non-traditional security concerns.
"Through this exercise, we hope to improve our counter-terrorism capabilities in order to build safer communities and work towards the eradication of global terror networks," the defense chief disclosed.
"We hope that through this activity we will have a stronger teamwork while we endeavor to our common vision of developing long term cooperation and effective inter-operability between the Philippines and the United States and our allies," he added. (With reports from Ericka Cirera, OJT/PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency