News: AFP, US service members discuss Legazpi City HCA projects
Story by Lance Cpl. Michael Thorn
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay Province, Philippines – Leaders from Legazpi City, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and United States armed forces came together April 21 for a press conference to mark the beginning of humanitarian civic actions as a part of Exercise Balikatan in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines.
Balikatan, a Filipino term meaning “shoulder-to-shoulder,” is an annual, bilateral exercise that strengthens the bond between the two nations, while improving the interoperability and readiness of both forces.
“Continuing the work between our country and America helps develop a strong bond and camaraderie,” said Capt. Renato Yongque, deputy commander for naval forces South Luzon, Philippine Navy. “Both countries can exchange knowledge and ideas while improving closeness with one another.”
Participants in the conference discussed the planned humanitarian civic assistance projects taking place in Albay, including the Engineering Civic Assistance Program and cooperative healthcare engagements. The ENCAP features several construction projects at local schools and health centers, and the CHE includes healthcare assistance programs and subject matter expert exchanges.
“It’s always better working together like this,” said U.S. Army Maj. Rory Walley, one of the CHE subject matter experts at the event. “Helping our allies is a great experience, and we learn more about each other. It’s a win-win situation.”
The shared HCA projects will also focus on improving the quality of life for the people of the Albay Province, while strengthening the relationship between AFP and U.S. forces.
“What this exercise leaves behind in the hearts of our people is far more important than the cement or physical things we will see come out of this,” said Joey S. Salceda, governor of Albay. “This face-to-face engagement between our countries will reinforce the relationship between the people of the Philippines and the United States of America.”