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Local French group denounces France’s military involvement in US-PH ‘Balikatan’ war games

A local Philippine-France solidarity group denounced the French government’s involvement in the Balikatan exercises, the largest bilateral military exercise between the United States Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which takes place between April 22 – May 10 in the Philippines.

In a statement, the Committee to Support Philippine Revolution (Comité de Support à la Révolution aux Philippines – CSRP) criticized the French government’s participation in the war games “as a sign of France’s subservience to march in lockstep with the US and its war provocations against China, and as one more step closer to solidifying French interests in the Asia Pacific region…”

The Balikatan war games is an annual military drill between the Philippines and the United States which aims to enhance military interoperability between participating countries. This year, the said military exercises are focused on conducting joint naval drills in open seas contested by China. France is participating in the Balikatan exercises for the first time ever, sending the French Navy’s surveillance frigate Vendémiaire (F734) to work with the US Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard.

“France’s participation in the biggest annual military exercise in the Philippines comes at the continuous increase of French military presence in the Indo-Pacific, in line with Macron’s 2018 announcement of a new French ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’,” CSRP emphasized.

In 2018, French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron announced the French Indo-Pacific Strategy which aims to consolidate French economic objectives in the region and act as a “balancing power” in the intensifying Sino-US rivalry.

In 2016, a defense cooperation agreement was signed between the Philippines and France which aimed to develop security collaboration relating to defense equipment, logistics and arms sales. The agreement was followed by two letters of intent in 2019 and 2023, both specifically geared towards maritime cooperation.

“One key aspect of the military and defense cooperation between France and the Philippines is the Navy, as is exemplified by past joint passing exercises in the South China Sea, Philippine marines being trained in France in submarine operations, and France’s ongoing attempt to sell its submarines to the Filipino Navy,” noted CSRP.

France and the Philippines are set to begin talks next month on a defense pact that would allow troops from each country to hold exercises in the other’s territory according to a recent announcement by the French Ambassador to Manila Marie Fontanel. This move was also criticized by the CSRP saying it is “intended to secure France’s growing economic interests in the region.”

In the statement, CSRP noted that the US government’s efforts, and the French government’s complicity in dragging the Philippines into an inter-imperialist war will be tackled in the upcoming International Peoples’ Tribunal (IPT) on May 17-18 in Europe. The IPT 2024 is a war crimes tribunal that aims to address and investigate the violations of international humanitarian law committed by the US-supported Marcos and Duterte regimes as part of its ‘counter-insurgency’ operations. The tribunal is organized by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the Friends of the Filipino People in Struggle (FFPS) – a federation of progressive organizations supporting the Filipino people which the CSRP is part of.

“We stand with the Filipino people in their struggle against US imperialism and for their right to social justice and equal rights and call on all French progressive organizations to join us in condemning France’s role in the ongoing military oppression of the Filipino people,” CSRP concluded.#



Angelina Weitz, [email protected]
06 20 78 82 41