AFP, US troops prepares for last balikatan exercises in May

The final Balikatan exercises of Philippine and U.S. troops in May—the first and last after the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)—is expected to be one of the biggest to include the Australian forces.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesman Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo disclosed almost 11,000 Filipino and American troops will participate for the exercise in a post-bases era when the bases agreement was terminated in 1990.

The Balikatan exercises will push through as scheduled. It is within the 180 period when the VFA is officially terminated.

Arevalo disclosed 6,529 Americans; 4,302 Filipinos; and 22 Australians will be deployed for the exercises.

The Balikatan exercises will no longer be possible without the VFA which governs the stay of U.S. soldiers in the Philippines for exercises and humanitarian work.

The Philippine government, on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, officially terminated the VFA, February 11.