Balikatan Exercises start through humanitarian projects

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Filipino, American and Australian forces started conducting humanitarian and civic assistance activities in Luzon as part of this year’s Philippines-United States Balikatan Exercises.

Personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), United States Armed Forces, and Australian Defense Force (ADF), all under the ambit of the U.S. alliance, began their Engineering Civic Action Program on Tuesday, March 12, in Tarlac, Batangas, Laguna and Bataan. The program seeks to construct medical facility and class room buildings at selected communities in the areas.

The beneficiaries of the class room buildings are Don Eulogio Luistro Elementary School in Bulsa, San Juan, Batangas; Victor De Guia Elementary School in Balian, Pangil, Laguna; and Pag-Asa Elementary School in Orani, Bataan Province. The local government of Brgy. San Pedro, Moncada, Tarlac will receive a one-story medical clinic.

Medical teams have also been deployed to conduct health engagements in the areas. Communities will benefit from free consultations, hygiene kits distribution, feeding program, and veterinary care. The teams will also share information on family planning, health, environment protection, and disaster preparedness.

Exercise Balikatan 2019 will officially open on April 1 in a ceremony to be held at the AFP’s headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. This is the 35th iteration of the annual military drill.

Throughout Exercise Balikatan, the AFP, U.S. Armed Forces and ADF will carry out information exchanges and live training events. These are aimed at enhancing the militaries’ interoperability during the planning and execution of joint operations to advance security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. AFP