Around 6,000 servicemen from the Philippines and the US on May 5 began a series of joint military exercises to enhance the former’s capability to cope with marine challenges.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the 10-day drills aim to develop the country’s naval capacity to address any marine threats.

The ‘Balikatan’ (shoulder to shoulder) exercises focus on search-and-rescue operations along with natural disaster and humanitarian scenarios.

They came a week after President Barack Obama reassured the US Government’s commitment to realising the 1951 bilateral defence cooperation agreement with the Philippines.

Both countries have also signed a 10-year mutual defence treaty that grants the US wider access to the Philippine military bases.-VNA