The 2022 Balikatan exercises held by the United States and the Philippines militaries kick off across Luzon today. The 37th
The 2022 Balikatan exercises held by the United States and the Philippines militaries kick off across Luzon today.
The 37th iteration of the exercise will run from March 28 until April 8 and is reported to be the largest military drill between the two countries, including approximately 8,900 personnel. The event also coincides with the 75th anniversary of the US-Philippine security cooperation, a month ahead of the upcoming Philippine presidential election.
Although US-Philippines relations under Duterte, who has drawn his country closer to China, have been rocky, the exercises signal a new era of bilateral relations as the president’s term comes to an end. The Philippines plays a crucial role in Washington’s new Indo-Pacific strategy, specifically for supply chain and maritime security. Future US-Philippine relations will depend on whether the country chooses Ferdinand Marcos Jr. or Leni Robredo, the two frontrunners in the election.
As China and Russia failed to be reliable partners during Duterte’s term, the US once again has the opportunity to be an important strategic partner for the Philippines. However, if Marcos Jr., a pro-China candidate wins the election, US-Philippines relations are likely to remain rocky. This may lead the US to strengthen defense ties with other countries in the Indo-Pacific.
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