Balikatan exercise between US-Philippines cancelled
The Balikatan exercise between United States and Philippine forces set May 4 to 15 is cancelled due to the 2019 coronavirus disease.
This was confirmed by Rear Admiral Adelius Bordado, the chief of AFP Education, Training and Doctrine Command and the co-director of Balikatan 2020 on Friday.
"Yes, yes... we are in an extraordinary situation, actually that was already considered by the chief of staff last Monday he advises the J8 (Education and Training) to cancel," Bordado said.
"Many people may be put in danger if the Balikatan will continue. It's a large exercise. It involves thousands of troops, movement of troops.That is why it's about time to really cancel Balikatan for the safety of the troops and the people," he said.
Bordado said this years bilateral exercise was supposed to be participated by more than 10,000 American and Filipino soldiers.
In a statement, The United States Pacific Command announced the cancellation of the Balikatan 2020.
"The exercise cancellation is in accordance with international travel restrictions implemented by the US Department of Defense (DoD) as well as the Republic of the Philippines in response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19," it stated.
"The United States and the Philippines have shared values and enjoy a warm relationship, deeply rooted in history, and the US remains committed to the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty," the statement said.
"The DoD’s priorities remain the protection of service members, their families, and the department’s civilian work force; safeguarding and maintaining our ability to defend the nation and its interests; and supporting our allies and partners in this fight," it added
Admiral Phil Davidson, commander, US Indo-Pacific Command said the cancellation of the bilateral exercise was made for the safety of both countries.
“In light of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding COVID-19 pandemic and in the best interest of the health and safety of both countries’ forces, it is prudent to cancel Balikatan 2020,” Davidson said.
“We remain deeply committed to our longstanding Alliance and friendship," he added.
Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Philippines and the United States forces being done in different parts of the Philippines. Robina Asido/DMS