DND backs PMA temporary closure to tourists, outsiders

By Priam Nepomuceno

February 5, 2020, 12:55 pm

MANILA -- The Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday backed the Philippine Military Academy's (PMA) decision to temporarily close to visitors and outsiders its grounds at Fort Del Pilar, Baguio City due to the novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) scare.

"The DND supports the decision of the Philippine Military Academy to temporarily close its grounds to visitors and outsiders in light of the 2019-nCoV situation. This is in step with the decision of the City Mayor of Baguio, the Honorable Benjamin Magalong, who imposed a mandatory city-wide lockdown for tourists and visitors," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message to reporters Tuesday night.

Lorenzana also suggested that the annual PMA Alumni Homecoming, held mid-February, be postponed.

"Unless the City Mayor reverses his decision before February 14, then I suggest that the PMA Homecoming be moved to a more auspicious date in the future," he added.

Lorenzana described the PMA decision as prudent as they deemed it necessary to avoid situations where the health and safety of the cadets, PMA alumni, and their families would be put at risk.

The academy earlier said it is temporarily closing its grounds in Baguio City to visitors.

However, it added that cadets' parents and relatives may visit with the supervision of PMA health practitioners.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also supported the postponement of the PMA alumni homecoming.

"The (nCoV) threat has not been contained yet and we have to exercise on the side of caution or prudence," Año said when sought for comment.

"It's the call of the Mayor and PMA Superintendent and I support their positions. The three-week suspension is enough as it complies/satisfies with the incubation period. If ever the Alumni Homecoming is postponed, its the (PMA Alumni Association) and PMA who shall determine the new date," Año stressed.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) also suspended visits for its cadets in training at its academy in Silang, Cavite until further notice due to the 2019-nCoV ARD situation.

"Effective today (Tuesday) visitations for cadets is suspended until further notice as ordered by PNPA (PNP Academy) Director, Major Gen. Chiquito Malayo," PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said in a statement late Tuesday.

All personnel entering the camp are required to wear face masks.

"They are also subjected to temperature check at the gate before allowed entry," Banac added. (With reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)