MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine and US militaries on Friday, May 19, formally closed the 2017 Balikatan Exercises, an annual activity between two longtime treaty allies bound to defend the other if it sovereignty is threatened.
Bea Cupin files this video blog.
BEA CUPIN, REPORTING: The first Balikatan exercises under President Duterte officially comes to a close.
For this year's exercise it's not guns and weapons that soldiers carry but building materials for school, and supplies and resources that are crucial in the event of another big disaster or a terrorist threat.
The exercises almost didn't happen after Duterte threatened to cancel it, but he was convinced to allow it.
Duterte wants to move away from long-time ally the United States and closer to China and Russia.
The smaller scale is a let down to many but amid an apparent shift in the Philippines' foreign policy, this year's Balikatan simply wants to show the Philippines, the region and the world that Filipino and American troops are better off when they stand balikatan, shoulder to shoulder.
Bea Cupin, Rappler, Manila. – Rappler.com