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Balikatan Exercise 38

Aug 19, 2023Aug 19, 2023

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac – Combined troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United States Armed Forces (USAF) have completed a community healthcare facility in Barangay Suklayin, Baler, Aurora, as part of the Engineering Civic Action Project (ENCAP) of Balikatan 38-23.

Major Anthony B. Pueblas, the acting spokesperson of the AFP Northern Luzon Command, said that the construction of the health facility lasted for 25 days with the cooperation and teamwork of the construction team from the 355th Aviation Engineer Wing, Philippine Air Force, and the 9th Engineer Support Battalion of the US Marines.

"The Community Health Center of Barangay Suklayin, Baler, Aurora, was formally turned over to the residents in a dedication ceremony held on the project site on April 26, 2023," Pueblas said.

The community health care center was established in response to the residents of the aforesaid barangay's need for immediate and convenient access to quality health services.

Aurora Gov. Christian Noveras, who expressed his gratitude to the Balikatan Exercises for choosing the province of Aurora as one of the recipients of the projects, graced the turnover of the Balikatan project.

"This community health care center will serve as a tangible testament of the unending friendship between the United States and the Philippines. I would like to thank the US forces and the armed forces of the Philippines for choosing the province of Aurora as a recipient," Noveras said.

He further emphasized that the Balikatan Exercise is equally focused on community development as it is on military training.

"I hope it won't be the last time that Balikatan will be conducted in the province. This project symbolizes that Balikatan is not all about joint military exercises, but rather it is an attestation of the strong commitment to addressing the plight of our people through humanitarian civic assistance," he added.

Lt. Col. Marcos Gillet, commanding officer of the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, US Marine Corps, said that the project is a reflection of the friendship between the Philippines and the United States and decades of working together as partners and allies.

Meanwhile, residents of Barangay Suklayin expressed gratitude to the Balikatan for their newly constructed health care center.

"I am grateful to Balikatan Exercises for building a health center in our barangay; it is a great help to our very large barangay. We will utilize it properly and take care of it," said Antonio Mata, chairman of Barangay Suklayin.

Helen Portera, a barangay health worker, also expressed her gratitude to the Balikatan for their community health facility.

"For the past 12 years, as a BHW, we have not had a designated area; now, we are very happy that we have one, and those who need treatment, especially pregnant women and children, will be accommodated," said Portera.

The community health center in Barangay Suklayin is one of the three development projects carried out under the Engineer Civic Action Program of Balikatan Exercise 38-2023, the two others being a health center in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, and a multi-purpose hall project in Antique.