US soldiers on humanitarian, civic missions now starting to arrive in Catbalogan City
TACLOBAN CITY- American soldiers who are part of a humanitarian and civic assistance mission are starting to arrive in Catbalogan City in Samar as advanced parties before the actual US troops aboard a navy hospital ship arrive on June 17 this year.
Lieutenant Col. Arvin Lagamon, spokesperson of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in the region , said they have already accommodated hundreds of US soldiers who arrived in Catbalogan last week to initiate preliminary civic missions in some parts of the province.
He said the pre-deployed American soldiers will start some infrastructure projects like building medical facilities in San Isidro, Northern Samar and construction of two school buildings in the towns of Pambujan and Gandara of said province.
“They have started already some advanced constructions so that by the end of the month, these projects will already be done,” he said in a radio interview aired over DYDW yesterday, adding that the US Army is also expected to implement some projects in Calbayog City and in San Jorge, Samar.
The United State Pacific Fleet’s humanitarian mission, known as Pacific Partnership 2012, has been deployed aboard a navy hospital ship which is USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) for a four-month deployment in at least four host nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
In the Philippines, the hospital ship is expected to dock at Calbayog port by June 17 along with its hundreds of crews before the formal opening of the mission begins on June 19, Lagamon said.
He said dignitaries from the US Embassy and some high-ranking officials together with representatives from all sectors are expected to arrive during the opening.
“This is a partnership between the American soldiers and the Philippine Army, local government units in Samar and other stakeholders,” he stressed.
Lagamon said pre-screening is already underway for those who want to benefit of the medical and dental services of the visiting soldiers.
“They just need to coordinate with their respective local government units and once they will be screened, they will be picked up by the Army to the ship. They have to take this opportunity because the medical services include free cataract operations, medical surgeries, among others,” he said.
Lagamon added that the visit of the US Navy is not a form of a Balikatan or war exercise as he underscores that the activity will mainly focus on humanitarian activities.he said. (ALVIN P. CARDINES)
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