MORE RP-U.S. WAR GAMES PLANNED

Camp Aguinaldo, QC, Feb. 14, 2003 -- Top Philippine and US officials are currently holding talks aimed at replicating the RP-US Balikatan exercises in places other than Basilan, where the joint military training was held last year apparently to crush the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group.

"There is a continuing discussion about the Balikatan type exercises being replicated in other parts of the Philippines after the Basilan experience," Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes noted.

Asked whether they were planning to hold the Balikatan type exercises in Sulu, another Abu Sayyaf infested area, or in Luzon areas, he said: "That is what we are discussing now."

According to Reyes, a number of local officials have voiced their intentions of hosting the Balikatan-type trainings because of the success of the counter-terrorism exercises in Basilan.

"There had been other local officials that had voiced their willingness to have their provinces as the venue for Balikatan type exercises," the Defense secretary also said.

"We are talking about future exercises, future involvement and what we are saying is that there is discussion going on because of the successful Balikatan exercises," he averred.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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