Disasters, including a possible big quake, prompt shift in Balikatan thrust: Lorenzana
Shifting this year’ Balikatan thrust from territorial defense to disaster operations and terrorism is appropriate, said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the close of the yearly drill between the Philippines and the United States, plus Australia and Japan, which attended as an observer.
“We have to address some of the pressing problems of the country. Our country lies within the typhoon belt and the Ring of Fire. We are visited by typhoons at least 20 times a year and once in a while we have strong earthquakes like what happened in Bohol four years ago,” explained Lorenzana.
Lorenzana revealed that this month the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) briefed them that they will be expecting a big earthquake in Metro Manila.
“There is a big, big fault there and according to him (Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum) the cycle of this earthquake is actually every 400 years. “The last time that there was a big earthquake was here in Metro Manila in 1640. It’s about time,” said Lorenzana.
Lorenzana said the importance of “humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and counter-terrorism operations.”
“Training and drills are critical in order to improve stance, effectiveness and speed in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety,” said Lorenzana.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said thousands of “our military servicemen members trained together to share critical skill sets, understand each others’ planning processes and operations and refine their combined abilities.”
“By all accounts, Balikatan 33 was a success,” added Kim.
But Kim reminded people of the times countries live in. “Our nations face an increasingly complex and volatile security environment. Now, more than ever our armed forces must work closely together closely,” he said.
“Exercises like Balikatan build upon long and productive history between our two militaries and ensure that we are always ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in defense of our alliance, our shared values and the international rules-based order,” said Kim. DMS