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PH-US begins Balikatan exercises, build more schools


The 37th Philippines-United States Armed Forces Balikatan exercises formally began on Monday in the province of Cagayan with simultaneous groundbreaking ceremonies for school construction projects under the Engineering Civic Action Program (Encap).

The United States government has provided $100,000 to each of the four schools: Taggat Sur and Pinas Elementary Schools in Claveria, Cagayan, Masi Elementary School in Rizal, Cagayan, and San Francisco Elementary School in Alicia, Isabela.

According to Lt. Col. Oliver Logan, commander of the Philippine Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion, each building will be completed in April of this year and will measure 18×17 square meters.

Logan stated that the Balikatan exercises allow the US Air Force to share their expertise with Philippine Army troops.

He added that the Balikatan exercises aim to strengthen the Army’s friendship with the forces as well as to exchange knowledge, tactics, and other means in a variety of other areas.

Logan reiterated that no live-firing exercises will be conducted in accordance with the resolution of the Cagayan Provincial Peace and Order Council, which is led by Gov. Manuel Mamba.

He stated that the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces had approved the resolution.

Lt. Austin Koch, the officer in charge of the United States Armed Forces US Site, stated that the Encap will allow the US and Philippine forces to collaborate on the construction of the new buildings.

The equipment will also be provided by the US government until the project is completed.

Koch stated that they will provide materials and other heavy equipment for the duration of the classrooms’ construction.

Koch said: “We are very willing to teach Filipino forces on using these advanced technologies as they will be teaching us how to build buildings in their own way.”

He added: “We will work side by side. Now, I am pretty much excited to learn the innovative process from Filipinos and we really do appreciate everyone.”

The management of the said schools and the people expressed gratitude by warmly welcoming the US and Philippine forces.

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