05 November 2014

Cancelled port calls won’t affect US-Phl defense ties

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. assured the nation yesterday the cancelled port calls of US warships to Subic Bay would not affect the defense ties between the Philippines and the US.

Speaking to reporters in Camp Aguinaldo, Catapang said no joint activities would be discontinued.

“Even if there’s a problem or something like that, we will continue with our military exercises with our US counterparts,” he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday the US has cancelled the visit of three warships to Subic Bay this month for operational reasons.

Speaking to reporters, DFA spokesman Charles Jose said the cancellation is not related to the murder case against US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton.

“We don’t see the ongoing case to be a reason,” he said. “We were just informed about the cancellation.”

The three are part of nine US warships scheduled to dock in the former US naval this month and to remain until December.

Jose said the reconsideration of port visits is normal occurrence as US warships are deployed in many areas of the Pacific and subject to changing operational requirements.

“The DFA was informed through normal diplomatic channels of the cancellation of the visits to Subic of three US Navy ships for operational reasons,” he said.

Jose said the ships are not part of a joint military training in the Philippines.

“Usually the purpose of port calls is for repairs, for operational reasons,” he said. “We can say they are not related to joint exercises. The exercises are not related to port calls.” (Alexis Romero, Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star)