By Leilanie Adriano

READY FOR BALIKATAN. Exercise Balikatan 2024 executive agent Col. Michael Logico talks to reporters during a press conference at the Office of Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc on Sunday (May 5, 2024). A no-sail zone will take effect in the waters off Ilocos Norte on May 6 to 10 due to live-fire exercises. (PNA photo by Leilanie Adriano)

LAOAG CITY – A no-sail zone will take effect Monday in the coastal waters of Ilocos Norte to give way to the counter-landing live-fire exercises at La Paz Sand Dunes in this city as part of the “Balikatan” military exercises.

Balikatan 2024 executive agent Col. Michael Logico said the notice to mariners was published three weeks in advance as approved by the Philippine Coast Guard.

“The displacement (of fisherfolk) will take effect tomorrow. It is for the safety of fishermen and commercial vessels entering the exercise area,” Logico said in a press conference Sunday at the office of Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc.

The exercises will last until May 10.

He said around 600 Filipino and American troops have arrived in the province with high-powered weapons systems.

Counter-landing live-fire refers to a military tactic aimed at preventing or repelling hostile forces from establishing themselves in a country’s territory.

In a media advisory, the joint counter-landing fires will feature the United States Army, Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps artillery, and the Philippine Marine Corps’ Littoral Combat Team Rifle Company.

The military assets to be used in the exercises include 105mm and 155mm howitzers from the Philippine Army and Marines; four tanks from the Armor Division; a fast attack craft from the Philippine Navy; caliber .50 platforms from the US Marine Corps along with their Javelin anti-tank missiles and multi-role anti-armor anti-personnel weapons systems; and the US Air Force MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle and B-52 heavy bomber.

Logico clarified that the B-52 heavy bomber will be used in the simulation but it will not be fired.

In welcoming the Exercise Balikatan troops, Manotoc assured residents that he would closely monitor the military exercises.

“We just want our people to be informed and protected and our environment is not adversely affected. If anything happens or there is any untoward activity (during the exercise), my office door is open to any complaint. I want everyone to be safe and well taken care of,” he told reporters. (PNA)