Phl, US troops to hold humanitarian activities in Luzon
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 21, 2014 - 6:05pm

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino and American troops will conduct humanitarian projects as part of the activities leading to this year’s Balikatan military drills.

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

The groundbreaking of the project will be held Tuesday, almost two weeks before the formal opening of the bilateral exercises on May 5.

“We start our civic assistance projects before the opening because repairs (of infrastructure) take time,” Cazcarro told reporters Monday.

She said about 200 Filipino and American soldiers will participate in various community projects to be held nationwide.

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, which literally means “shoulder to shoulder,” 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 Western Command in Puerto Princesa while field training exercises 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.

A statement released by the United States (US) Embassy said the 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 statement read.

“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 (from the project). They will have a classroom that is more conducive to learning,” she said. –  with Ronald Mendoza and Alvin Perez

ALBAY ANNALEAH CAZCARRO BALIKATAN CAMP AGUINALDO CAZCARRO CLARK AIR BASE CROW VALLEY FILIPINO AND AMERICAN LEGAZPI CITY NUEVA ECIJA
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