Hanoi (VNA) – The Philippines and the US kicked off their largest-ever joint military drills on the former’s Luzon Island on March 28.

The 12-day exercises, codenamed “Balikatan”, involve nearly 9,000 personnel of both sides, focusing on maritime security, amphibious operation, live-fire training, counterterrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The drills, which are an annual affair but were cancelled or curtailed during the pandemic, are the last under outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Philippine military chief General Andres Centino said at the opening ceremony in Manila that the largest round of the Balikatan exercises reflects the "deepening alliance" between the two countries.

Meanwhile, US Major General Jay Bargeron said the "friendship and trust" between their respective armed forces will allow them to "succeed together across the entire spectrum of military operations"./.