Lorenzana, US counterpart pledge to strengthen bilateral alliance

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 19, 2019   •   392

United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (R) and Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (L) shake hands during a press conference at a military camp in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 19 November 2019. Esper is in the Philippines for a series of meetings to discuss terrorism and defense relations between the two countries. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

Department of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and United States counterpart Mark Esper pledged to strengthen the bilateral alliance of the Philippines and the United States during their meeting on Tuesday (November 19).

In a joint statement, the two officials both praised the Philippines-United States alliance and also pledged to improve information sharing to prevent terrorist attacks and the transit of foreign terrorist fighters in and through the Philippines.

“Both sides have committed to focus on developing capabilities and enhancing cooperation in both maritime and aerial domains through the conduct of the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board activities,” the statement reads.

Meanwhile, both countries also reiterated their commitment to upholding freedom of navigation, overflight, other lawful uses of the sea in the South China Sea.

Esper said they stand for international rules, pertaining to the maritime dispute between China and other Southeast Asian countries.

“The clear signal that we’re trying to send is not that we oppose China per se, but that we all stand for international rules and international laws and we think China should abide by them as well and that acting collectively is the best way to send that message to get China on the right path,” he said.

Both parties are also open to reviewing the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty of the Philippines and the United States.

“In my opinion, it has been made in 1951 at the height of the Korean War. And the situation then compared to now is different. So, we are now in the low-level discussion first,” Lorenzana said.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Parcels of military land to be converted for beneficiaries of Balik-Probinsya Program — DND

Marje Pelayo   •   June 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Army is having an inventory of its lands in camps across the country which can be converted into residential areas for beneficiaries of the national government’s Balik-Probinsya Program (BPP).

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that one possible area is the almost 1,200 hectares of military land in Bukidnon that can be converted into farmland. 

“Tutulungan din namin ang mga tao na iyan kasi malapit sila sa kampo kung papaano nila mapapaunlad ang kanilang mga sakahan (We will help the beneficiaries especially those near the camps on how they will develop the land),” Lorenzana said during the Laging Handa press briefing on June 12.

The DND has also identified four model resettlement communities in Mindanao for the BPP.

One of which is the 6.3 hectares model community in Kausuagan, Lanao del Norte, according to Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chairman Secretary Manny Piñol.

Aside from housing units, the entire community will also be trained in organic farming such as poultry raising and vegetable cultivation.

“Ni-link up na namin sila sa merkado. So, pag-start nila ng production meron na kaagad bibili nung kanilang produkto kasi naka-kontrata na, (We will link them up with the market. So when they start their production, they will have a ready market for their products because there are contracts already),” Piñol said.

The official estimates the first model community to be established within the next two months which can house up to 200 families. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

AFP Chief tests positive of COVID-19, Lorenzana confirms

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 27, 2020

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Felimon Santos Jr. has tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to Department of Defense National (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

On Friday (March 27), the DND Secretary announced that he will undergo self-quarantine after the AFP Chief informed him of being COVID-19 positive.

Lorenzana said the AFP Chief received his results on Thursday (March 26) and that he was in close proximity with him on two occasions, on March 21 and 22.

Santos went under home quarantine on March 24 after having contact with the senior military officer.

“I have no symptoms but protocol says I have to self-quarantine for 14 days,” Lorenzana said. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

PH-US military drills within 180 days of VFA scrapping to push through — Lorenzana

Robie de Guzman   •   February 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The military exercises between the Philippines and the United States scheduled for the following months will still push through despite the Duterte government’s move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

In a statement, Lorenzana said the training between Filipino and American soldiers will still proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force.

“With the formal serving of the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, this year’s planned military exercises with the Americans shall proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force,” he said.

The Defense chief, however, said American troops may opt to discontinue the exercises before the 180 days are up.

Once the VFA’s termination is final, Lorenzana said Filipino troops will stop conducting military drills with their American counterparts.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday confirmed that they have received the notice of termination sent by the Philippine government. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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