..MANILA, Philippines --- Members of the US Navy Seabees and Armed Forces of the Philippines have started the construction of schools and medical facilities in Samar as part of advance work for the launch of the Philippine leg of the Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12).
PP12 is the largest annual humanitarian and civic assistance mission conducted by the US Pacific Fleet to strengthen international relationships and partners and host nations in Asia and the Pacific.
It is also aimed at enhancing interoperability of regional forces in their ability to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies.
AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said work began on three of four Engineering Civic Assistance Projects (ENCAP) of the PP12 last May 24 with the arrival of US Navy Seabees and other partners.
The schools and medical facilities to be constructed as part of the PP2 will benefit 20,000 residents of Samar, Burgos said.
The Philippine leg of the PP2 is scheduled to officially kick off on June 18. It will run until July 1.
Partner nations of PP12 include Thailand, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Korea, Chile, Peru, and Netherlands.
Foreign non-government organizations (NGO) like the Project Hope, Oceanit, World Vets, and Vietnam Medical Assistance Program will also join local NGOs in the implementation of engineering civic action programs (ENCAP), medical civic action programs (MEDCAP), dental civic action programs (DENCAP), veterinary civic action programs (VETCAP), and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) lectures and seminars to Philippines (Samar), Indonesia (North Sulawesi), Vietnam (Vinh), and Cambodia (Sihanoukville).
Burgos said engineers from the AFP, United States Navy, and other partner nations and non-government organizations in the PP12 are already executing the three ENCAP sites in Palanit, Bugtong, and Tambongan ahead of schedule. These are aimed at contributing to the economic and social development of the selected communities.
The ENCAPs will include the construction of a two-classroom school building in Palanit, San Isidro, Northern Samar; renovation of a health center in Bugtong, Tinambacan District, Western Samar; renovation of San Jorge Elementary School in San Jorge Samar; and reconstruction of Tambongan Elementary School in Gandara District, Western Samar.
The Palanit Elementary School has not received any improvement projects in the last six years despite serving primary education to the 3,029 residents of the barangay and adjacent villages. The project will involve the construction of a seven-meter by 16-meter, two-classroom school building that will also serve as a facility for major village functions.
The ENCAPs will also include the major reconstruction of a school building in San Jorge Elementary School that was badly damaged by typhoon in 2011. The project will help the municipality of San Jorge improve the education environment of the school that currently only has 13 classrooms with more than 1,000 students enrolled yearly.
Also, Barangay Tambongan Elementary School has 177 students using only four classrooms and one temporary school building made from bamboo and nipa. The engineering project in the school will construct another seven-meter by 16-meter, two-classroom school building to improve the school's facility for education.
Meanwhile, the Barangay Bugtong health center serves the 2,069 residents of the village with medical services. The ENCAP will renovate the existing government building by replacing the entire roof structure, repairing walls, constructing a new toilet facility, and installing electrical outlets.
The cities and towns that will benefit include the Catbalogan City and Calbayog City and the towns of Silanga, Gandara, Carayman, Veriato, Malaga, and San Isidro.
AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie D. Dellosa commended the "AFP engineers who committed themselves and joined foreign partners in constructing a brighter future for the youth and improving the quality of life of thousands of residents in Samar."
"Each time a window of opportunity opens to serve, our soldiers, particularly our engineers, are always a step ahead in making sure that the Filipino people are given the facilities for growth and a better quality of life. For this, we express our gratitude to the partner nations in the Pacific Partnership 2012 for another year of humanitarian, disaster response, community relations, and civic action programs," said Dellosa.