'' No problem'' with Balikatan cancellation: Lorenzana
With the Philippine government focusing on the public health emergency on the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Saturday the Philippines has "no problem" with the cancellation of annual Balikatan Exercise set May 2-15.
"As I said, we had six months to do the major exercises but we gave them (the US) the decision to go ahead or not," he said.
"However, events were overtaken by COVID19, and since foreigners are banned from coming, then the exercises are cancelled," he added.
Lorenzana is on self-quarantine after he had contact with General Filemon Santos Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff. Santos was confirmed positive for the COVID-19, said Lorenzana on Friday.
It can be recalled that the cancellation was first announced by the US. Indo-Pacific Command in compliance with travel restrictions implemented by both countries to contain the spread of COVID19.
According to Admiral Phil Davidson, US Indo-Pacific Command, the cancellation 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. Robina Asido/DMS