COVID-19 halts Balikatan 2020
Balikatan 2020 cancelled
MANILA – The Hawaii-based United States Indo-Pacific Command considered health concerns and safety of participating exercised forces and local residents in planned exercise areas led them to cancel Exercise Balikatan 2020 from May 4-15 in the Philippines.
In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command said the cancellation was in accordance with international travel restrictions implemented by the U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) as the Republic of the Philippines due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
“In the 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,” said Adm. Phil Davidson, U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander. He said they are deeply committed to their long-standing alliance and friendship.
Balikatan is a yearly exercise between the Philippines and the United States and Australia.
Balikatan, according to the statement comes from the U.S. – Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty forged in 1951 at the beginning of the Cold War.
“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,” the statement concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)
Filipino and American soldiers salute at one of the opening of Balikatan Exercises at Camp Emilio Aguinaldo. (File Photo/Melo Acuna)