Mercy mission to go on despite shooting
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - June 12, 2008 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The USNS Mercy’s goodwill and outreach mission will go on as scheduled in Mindanao and Samar despite the shooting of one of its helicopters in Cotabato on Monday, the US embassy said yesterday.

The embassy said the US Navy hospital ship would proceed with its humanitarian mission in the country.

“This mission reflects the longstanding ties between the United States and the Philippines, as well as our continued commitment to work together to help those in need,” the embassy said in a statement.

Since the hospital ship arrived on May 29 in Polloc Harbor in Parang, Cotabato, the embassy said the Mercy has already conducted more than 311 medical procedures aboard ship, including surgery, optometry screenings, burn care, preventative medicine, and dental screenings and treatment.

On land, in 20 communities across Mindanao, teams of US and Philippine medical practitioners and volunteers have provided free medical treatment to 9,954 patients, free dental care to 2,211 patients, and free veterinary care to 2,052 animals.

Meantime, engineering teams from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US military have completed renovation of two health clinics, in Broce and in Datu Piang.

On Monday, while on a routine flight supporting the humanitarian assistance efforts, one of Mercy’s four MH-60S Knighthawk support helicopters sustained damage from what appears to be a bullet.

As a consequence, the aircraft is currently out of service while the cause of damage is being investigated.

The grounding resulted in the cancellation of one medical assistance activity June 10.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but several armed groups operate in the area, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, New People’s Army rebels, private armies and criminal gangs.

The USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived  last May 29 and began its goodwill outreach mission providing humanitarian and civic assistance to the people of Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao, as well as Samar in the Visayas.

In addition to surgeries and treatment aboard the ship, teams of US and Philippine military doctors and engineers will conduct humanitarian assistance and community-outreach activities at select locations in Mindanao and Samar.

The Mercy’s mission has been coordinated with and approved by the Philippine government and is being carried out in conjunction with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and in close coordination and partnership with local medical care professionals.

Volunteers include the 3P Foundation, Operation Smile, Cranial-Facial Foundation, Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, Bangsamoro Women of Solidarity Forum, The Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, Shield, Calbayog Rotary Club, CARHAN, The Association of Filipino Doctors in America, WESADEF, Culion Foundation Inc., Barangay Health Workers Federation, Calbayog

Commission of Health Care and The Samar Medical Society.

After Mindanao, the ship transits to Samar today to continue its medical outreach, its medical personnel plan to treat a total of 12,000 medical patients.

An advanced construction teams from the US military and AFP have already renovated the municipal health office and pharmacy in Santa Margarita.

They are currently renovating the Gandara District Hospital and the Calbayog City main health center.

The mission’s co-directors, Philippine Navy Captain Crispin Mercado and US Navy Commodore William Kearns, will join US Ambassador Kristie Kenney and acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs Edsel Custodio for a closing ceremony on Saturday.

The Mercy will then set sail for Manila, arriving on June 15.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with