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PHL, US soldiers conduct Balikatan in Mindoro

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and their US counterpart conducted a Balikatan exercise in Lubang Island, Mindoro on Thursday.

According to a report by Chino Gaston in GMA's 24 Oras, the troops participated in a simulated operation to combat foreign enemies who invaded the airfield of an island and rescue hostages.

The soldiers used military simulation ammunition to facilitate a realistic operation.

The training program on responding to "airfield seizure" was specifically requested by the AFP from the US military.

"We requested this type of training because based on our assessment, ito 'yung isang bagay kung saan kailangan pa natin i-increase 'yung capability ng ating armed forces," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Pondanera, Director of the Exercise Group Land Balikatan 2019.

Pagasa Island is the only Manila-occupied island in the West Philippine Sea that has an airfield.

Hundreds of Chinese vessels were spotted by the Philippine military in the area from January to March this year.

The AFP, however, clarified that the Balikatan exercise is not aimed at targeting any particular country. It intends to equip the Philippines' armed forces and increase their interoperability with foreign allies. — Dona Magsino/BAP, GMA News