Balikatan 2020 exercise cancelled due to COVID-19 threat
BUTUAN CITY, Apr. 1 — The United States (US) Indo-Pacific Command has cancelled the exercise “Balikatan 2020” which was initially set on May 4 to 15 in the Philippines to ensure the health and safety of the participating forces and the locals in the communities near the planned training areas.
The exercise cancellation is in accordance with the international travel restrictions implemented by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) as well as the Republic of the Philippines in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
“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,” said Adm. Phil Davidson, commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
“We remain deeply committed to our long-standing alliance and friendship,” he added.
Balikatan is an annual exercise between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States, and involves participation from Australia. The United States and the Philippines have shared values and enjoy a warm relationship deeply rooted in history, and the U.S. remains committed to the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.
The DoD’s priorities remain the protection of service members, their families, and the department’s civilian work force; safeguarding and maintaining the ability to defend the nation and its interests; and supporting allies and partners in this fight. (U.S. Embassy in the Philippines/PIA-Caraga)