Philippines, US holding joint marine drills near South China Sea

Observers were permitted to watch a joint exercise carried out on Thursday by the Philippine and US Marine Corps. The aim of the drill was to practice guarding coastal areas near the South China Sea, where Beijing is becoming increasingly assertive.

The two nations have been conducting joint marine exercises in and around the Philippines since last week. Members of the press were able to observe a drill held on the Palawan Island on Thursday.

About 100 personnel from both militaries took part. They simulated a response to an enemy invasion from the shore.

The US marines sent up a small unmanned aircraft to locate an enemy vessel. The Philippine forces received video footage and information, such as the vessel's location. They responded to the situation by deploying amphibious vehicles.

Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro held talks with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin on Wednesday.
They confirmed that they will speed up the signing of a bilateral military information-sharing agreement, so the two sides will be able to start sharing highly confidential information.