Humanitarian projects kick off Balikatan exercises
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 22, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino and US troops will carry out humanitarian projects as part of  activities leading up to this year’s Balikatan military exercises.

Speaking to reporters, Lt. Annaleah Cazcarro, public affairs officer for the exercise, said among the pre-Balikatan activities is the repair of a classroom in Malobago, Albay.

“We start our civic assistance projects before the opening because repairs (of infrastructure) take time,” she said.

The groundbreaking for the project will be held today, almost two weeks before the formal opening of Balikatan on May 5.

The US embassy said a number of personnel from   regional partners of the Philippines and the US  have been invited  to join a portion of the military exercise.

About 200 Filipino and American soldiers will participate in various community projects to be held nationwide, Cazcarro said.

Balikatan 2014, the 30th iteration of the bilateral exercise, will start on May 5 and will be held until May 16.

This year’s exercise will focus on maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response and humanitarian civic assistance.

Balikatan aims to improve the military’s capabilities in crisis-action planning and counterterrorism. It also seeks to promote interoperability with the US Armed Forces.

Staff planning exercises will be conducted in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City and in the Armed Forces Western Command in Puerto Princesa City.

Field trainings will be held in Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Crow Valley in Tarlac and Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

About 3,000 Filipino troops and 2,500 US military personnel will participate in the activity.

The US embassy said   American troops have started conducting preliminary work on infrastructure projects in Albay.

“Philippine and US service members will conduct humanitarian civic assistance projects throughout Legazpi City. Military medical personnel will offer free medical, dental and veterinary care,” the embassy said.

Military engineers will construct and repair schools and other community infrastructure in selected communities.

Cazcarro said Legazpi City was chosen as project site because it is one of the disaster-prone areas in the country.

“Our students, especially those affected by typhoons, will benefit. They will have a classroom that is more conducive to learning,” she said. – With Pia Lee-Brago

ALBAY ANNALEAH CAZCARRO ARMED FORCES ARMED FORCES WESTERN COMMAND BALIKATAN CAMP AGUINALDO CAZCARRO CLARK AIR BASE CROW VALLEY LEGAZPI CITY
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