Defense chief says Duterte may be ‘misinformed’ on the value of US-PH joint military exercise

Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said President Rodrigo Duterte may have been misinformed about the significance of the joint military exercises, or war games, between the Philippines and the United States.

“Ayon sa kanya, ang mga Kano lang ang nagbebenipisyo sa mga exercises na yan. Pero ayon naman sa mga nakalap ko sa mga opisyales sa General Headquarters at Army, meron naman [benepisyo sa Pilipinas],” Lorenzana said on Wednesday, October 5.

This statement came after Duterte made several statements expressing his dislike of the war games to the extent that he even declared the October 4 to 12 joint exercises will be the last one under his term. He also threatened to stop the implementation of the Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), saying that it does not have a presidential signature.

Lorenzana said that Duterte’s statements could have been due to the lack of information received from the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Kaya nasabi kong misinformed ang ating mahal na Presidente ay dahil mukhang hindi kumpleto ang mga impormasyong dumadating sa kanya. Siguro nagkulang ang DND at ang AFP ng pagbibigay ng wastong information,” he said.

Lorenzana said that this is what they are planning to address in the coming days.

Lorenzana then went on to enumerate the benefits that the Filipino soldiers obtain from the joint military exercises. These include training for humanitarian assistance and disaster readiness, which is needed by the calamity-prone Philippines. He even raised the help given by the US troops when Typhoon Yolanda devastated the country in 2013.

“Dahil sa close military-to-military relations, medaling naka-coordinate ang US at AFP para ipadala sa Tacloban ang kanilang barko at helicopter nang agaran pagkatapos salantain ng Haiyan ang Tacloban noong November 2013. Sa katunayan sila ang mga unang dumating at sumaklolo,” he said.

Lorenzana said that American and Filipino troops conduct civil actions during war games, such as dental and medical missions and treat sick people in far-flung areas. He added that top officials are trained to conceptualize and execute techniques during TableTop Exercises.

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