Gov’t eyes expansion of Balikatan coverage to include PCG, official says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) — Authorities are eyeing the expansion of the coverage of Balikatan exercises to include the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), an official said on Wednesday.

“In the future iterations of this exercise, we intend to make this a multi-agency exercise so that we could fully involve the Coast Guard,” Balikatan 2023 spokesperson Col. Mike Logico told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

The Philippines and the United States on Tuesday kicked off the largest joint military drills this year. It involves over 17,500 troops from the two countries.

Logico said the PCG’s involvement will be in terms of securing an area for the conduct of the live fire drills in Zambales.

Balikatan 2023 will run for 18 days. It aims to sharpen the skills and combat readiness of Filipino and American troops, with more focus on naval drills, Logico earlier said.

However, groups have expressed concern on the possible impact of the live fire drills on the livelihood of farmers and fisherfolk.

Palawan 2nd District Rep. Jose Alvares said the “inconvenience is temporary.”

Department of National Defense Officer-in-Charge Carlito Galvez Jr., meanwhile, said the government is not expecting negative reactions from China amid the Balikatan drills.