NOLCOM starts preparing for Balikatan activities

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) has been engaging with stakeholders since April 3 in pre-selected areas in four provinces in Regions 2 and 3 to prepare for the conduct of Humanitarian and Civic Action (HCA) activities under US-Philippines Exercise Balikatan 34-2018.

Filipino, American soldiers fire mortar during Balikatan 33-2017. US Navy photo

Balikatan 34-2018 will take place in May. Balikatan is an annual US-Philippine military bilateral exercise focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counterterrorism, and other combined military operations.

“Coordination are now again being made among concerned LGU’s, school heads and NOLCOM units in order to gain support from different stakeholders,” NOLCOM said.

NOLCOM said Philippine Army and Philippine Navy engineering units, together with their US, Japanese and Australian counterparts, will be involved in HCA activities which will construct 5 two-room school buildings in Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Cagayan and Isabela.

“Cooperative Health Engagements (CHE) will also be done to increase the capacity of the Local government Units (LGUs) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to care for the people entrusted to them, through Health Education and First Responder Training. This includes First Aid Response/Disaster Preparedness Response; Vector Control Mitigation; Public Health; and Community Outreach,” it added. “Different sports activities involving the community and soldiers are also lined-up, as well as donation of sports equipment to different beneficiaries and spiritual enhancement spearheaded by the chaplains from the AFP and US contingents will form part of the program to enhance Community Relation (COMREL).”

NOLCOM said Balikatan displays the shoulder to shoulder involvement of Philippine-US forces in achieving common objectives of enhancing interoperability, build AFP and United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) capability, and foster confidence in mutual defense relationship while contributing to the welfare and social development of the local communities.