Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Albay hosts Balikatan 2014

From the opposition Daily Tribune (Apr 16): Albay hosts Balikatan 2014

Albay hosts gain the Philippines-United States annual joint military exercises this year, Balikatan, with a month-long series of humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) activities in this city and in Guinobatan town, from April 21 to May 22.

Balikatan 2014 (BK14) organizers have earlier booked about 400 hotel rooms for the purpose, for a full month period, representing about 60 percent of high-end quality room capacity in the province. The event is the fifth similar RP-US military-related activities which Albay had hosted since 2007.

Salceda said BK14 lends support to the provincial and local government units community outreach initiatives, enhances the program’s interoperability between the participants and local stakeholders, promote the BK14 Exercises and further enhance RP-US bilateral relations.

Salcedo said BK14 civic assistance activities will include Engineering Civic Assistance Program (ENCAP), Cooperative Healthcare (MEDA/ET) engagements, and Civil Military Operations and Community relations activities in Legazpi City. Guinobatan and several other nearby towns.

BK14 activities, held simultaneously in other parts of the country, involve some 5,500 US and Filipino military personnel. In Albay, some 400 US soldiers will participate in the HCA.

Albay had consistently hosted past humanitarian activities with US, most prominently; the Amphibious Landing Exercises or Phiblex last year, the US Pacific Angel in 2010, the RP-US Balikatan in 2009, and the visit of USS Peleliu in 2007.

For this year, BK14 will hold three ENCAPs in Guinobatan. In Barangay Malobago, it will construct a barangat health center and two classrooms at the Malobago Elementary School, aside from the repairs of the school’s sanitary, water and electrical facilities. In Barangay Mercedes will also construct one classroom and repair other facilities.

In Legazpi City, ENCAP activities include the construction of public toilet and water facilities in Barangay Pawa, and repair of the Tamaoyan Elementary School in Barangay Tamaoyan and its sanitary, water and electrical facilities.

BK14’s Coopeerative health engagement includes health symposia with professional health workers in at least five barangays of Legazpi City and Guinobatan town where AFP and US soldiers are already deployed.

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