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Preparations for Balikatan in high gear

Preparations are in high gear for the holding of the joint Philippine-US Balikatan war exercises in Sulu starting next month, a senior military official said. 

Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of Joint Task Force Comet (JTFC), said that on top of the ongoing humanitarian activities, several programs are being lined up for Balikatan from February to March.

A US military contingent is actively helping the Filipino troops in running after members of the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah in the island province. 

“We have lined up at least three medical civic action programs and a series of civil-military activities in several barangays in selected municipalities,” Rafael said. 

These humanitarian activities are aimed at providing basic services to the local folk like potable water, health services and livelihood projects to uplift their living conditions.

The Balikatan participants are also expected to build roads and repair school buildings. - Jaime Laude

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