From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 17): Capiceños welcome ‘Balikatan’
When the 31st RP – US Balikatan 2015 kicked off in the province, the United States (US) forces were welcomed with the happy and smiling faces of Capiceños, particularly in sites of exercises for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
“I am honored and happy to be part of the exercises and receive the warm welcome,” said US Navy Captain and US Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force (JCMOTF) for Palawan and Panay commander James Meyer, adding that the people are friendly and hospitable.
The remark of the US official was affirmed by Capiz Gov. Victor A. Tanco during an interaction with the local media to the delight of Capiz tri-media practitioners, US forces as well as army officials.
“I also speak in behalf of the locals in welcoming the troops,” Tanco said.
Meyer said that there are about 40 US forces in the province working with Philippine Army counterparts in health engagements, school building construction, basic life support training and disaster response preparation, among others.
Panay JCMOTF civil affairs teams will also conduct seaport and airport assessment within the week.
The Teams are working with local civic leaders to help identify how to best respond to natural disasters that may occur on the island using the resources that the local governments have on hand.
Balikatan, which means “shoulder-to-shoulder”in Filipino, is an annual bilateral training exercise held since 1984, aimed at improving the ability of Philippine and U.S. military forces to work together during planning, contingency, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
The exercises will end this month.