By JIM GOMEZ
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — More than 2,500 U.S. and Philippine marines are participating in combat exercises to be able to respond to any sudden crisis in the region. The annual drills are some of the largest so far between the allies under newly elected Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The drills that started Monday involve 1,900 U.S. Marines and more than 600 mostly Philippine counterparts in mock amphibious assaults and special operations. The venues include the western island province of Palawan, which faces the South China Sea, and the northern Philippines, across the Luzon Strait from Taiwan. The drills in the Philippines are being held simultaneously with combat exercises between U.S. Marines and Japanese forces in northern Japan.