MANILA, Philippines – The yearly alumni homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) has been postponed by a week as a precaution against the novel coronavirus (nCoV), PMA Alumni Association Incorporated (PMAAAI) announced on Wednesday, February 5.
Originally set for February 14 and 15, the event was pushed back to February 22.
This followed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement on Tuesday, February 4, expressing his support for a proposal to postpone the event. "We deem it prudent to avoid situations where the health and safety of our cadets, PMA alumni, and their families are put at risk," Lorenzana said.
The PMAAAI earlier insisted on pushing through as originally scheduled, even though the PMA campus in Baguio City, Fort Del Pilar, has been closed to visitors since January 31.
For at least 3 weeks, only cadets’ relatives will be allowed to visit Fort Del Pilar, and only on weekends, PMA Superintendent Vice Admiral Allan Ferdinand Cusi had ordered.
He afterwards urged the PMAAAI to follow suit.
“This is in deference to health and public safety concerns regarding nCoV. The decision was reached with the help of Baguio City Mayor, Cavalier Benjie Magalong '82, and PMA Superintendent, Vice Admiral Allan Cusi '86, making the 2-day event into one,” the PMAAAI said as it announced the new schedule.
Magalong is a member of PMA Sandigan Class of 1982. Cusi belongs to the PMA Sinagtala Class of 1986.
The Philippines has had 3 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, one of whom died on February 1. As of February 5, health officials were probing 133 people for the virus.
Globally, the virus has so far killed more than 490, mostly in China, and infected more than 23,900 in 25 countries. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.