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Balikatan to focus on humanitarian response

Celso Amo, Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Humanitarian response is the focus of this year’s Philippine-US Balikatan exercises in Albay from April 21 to May 16.

Col. Generoso Bolina, deputy commander of the 901st Brigade based in Daraga, Albay, said the first batch of 30 US servicemen arrived last Tuesday and two more groups are set to arrive today and tomorrow.

“The US Pacific Command based in Hawaii will be sending some 160 personnel from the US Marines, Air Force and Navy, most of them engineers, medical and civic workers,” Bolinao said in a briefing by the Civil Military Operation team of Task Force Balikatan.

Also to take part in the joint annual exercise – the 30th – are some 180 Philippine military personnel mostly from the 565th Engineering Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division based in Pili, Camarines Sur and supported by engineering units from the Philippine Navy and Air Force.

Participants in the coming joint exercises will engage in engineering works, school building construction, as well as in health and medical mission in depressed areas in the province.

This was the second time the joint exercises were held in Albay. In 2009, some 400 American military personnel including doctors, engineers and nurses performed humanitarian work in depressed areas in the province.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said humanitarian mission would be conducted in Barangays Sinungtan, Malobago and Dona Mercedes in Guinobatan town as well as in ∫arangays Pawa and Rawis here.

Salceda, co-chairman for developing countries of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), said the Balikatan exercises would provide the province the opportunity to present its best practices in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said the city’s police force headed by Superintendent Alex Pederio would deploy 80 policemen to ensure the safety of Balikatan exercises participants.

“We have to ensure they will enjoy their stay while they help our fellow Albayanos,” Rosal said.

AIR FORCE AND NAVY

ALBAY

ALBAY GOV

BALIKATAN

BARANGAYS SINUNGTAN

CAMARINES SUR

CIVIL MILITARY OPERATION

ENGINEERING BRIGADE

GENEROSO BOLINA

GREEN CLIMATE FUND

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