Philippine Soldier Dies in Joint US Military Exercises

A parachute jump turned fatal for a Philippine parachutist taking part in a joint military exercise with the United States, the two allies said Friday.

The soldier "accidentally dropped into the sea" near Subic airport due to wind drag, a Philippine military statement said.

Both the United States and Philippines are investigating the incident, which occurred Thursday.

"The safety of all the participants is a priority," Captain Alex Lim, U.S. spokesperson for the joint exercises, told AFP. Lim said he did not know if any deaths had occurred previously in the annual exercises.

Five thousand U.S. troops and about 3,500 Philippine soldiers began the exercises throughout the Philippines Monday as part of an 11-day program amid rising tension in the region about territorial disputes over the South China Sea.

Enhancing defense, security

The United States has invested more than $120 million over the past year in military aid to the Philippines. "We got the largest ever allocation from the U.S. government this year to enhance defense and security of our country," Manila's ambassador to Washington, Jose Cuisia, told members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Manila .

He said Manila would receive an extra $42 million from a new maritime capacity-building program announced by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who will visit the Philippines next week.

Believed to house large deposits of oil and gas, the South China Sea is claimed in part by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Although China already claims the majority of the territory through which about $5 trillion in trade is shipped yearly, it has recently become increasingly assertive in its control.

The Philippines has sought international arbitration and anticipates a decision late this month or early May, but China has declined to take part


Source: Voice Of America