U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim on Wednesday honored Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana for his “steadfast commitment and invaluable contributions to the alliance of the US and Philippines.”
Kim gave Lorenzana the inaugural Major General Albert Jones Memorial Award in a ceremony during the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group’s (JUSMAG) 70th anniversary celebration.
Aside from congratulating Lorenzana, the ambassador also thanked him for his “leadership and initiative in our defense cooperation” in a post on social media.
Also present at the ceremony was former president and retired general Fidel V. Ramos.
The Major General Albert Jones Memorial Award is given to U.S. or Philippine government officials who have made significant contributions to the bilateral defense partnership.
Jones was commander of the 51st Division of the Philippine Army in 1940, and the 1st Philippine Corps during World War 2. He was captured in Bataan in 1942, and was the only general in the Death March.
Before being freed, he was held as a prisoner of war for 2 years, and returned to the country in 1946 to lead a U.S. military advisory mission to Manila, which became JUSMAG. The group was initially tasked to advise and assist the Philippines with military training.
The U.S. remains as the Philippines' traditional ally, even amid President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called "pivot to China" last year.
When he assumed his post as US ambassador to the Philippines in December last year, Kim said he was looking forward to playing a key role in sustaining Washington's relationship with the Philippines.
The Philippine Armed Forces continues to conduct joint activities with the U.S. military, despite Duterte airing his desire to have foreign troops out of the country in the next 2 years.