Philippines, US forces conduct humanitarian assistance disaster response activities
Casiguran, Aurora -- Philippine and United States forces conducted Civil Military Activities from Sea as part Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) activities here under Balikatan 2017.
The exercise, participated by more than 500 Filipino and American forces, began 6 am Monday with aerial reconnaissance operation by two Philippine Air Force UH-1D helicopters.
Major. Celeste Frank Sayson, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Balikatan Public Affairs Director, said the exercise is prepare for a powerful storm like Super Typhoon Yolanda that hit the province of Leyte on 2013.
“We presume, based on our scenario, that this place is isolated. You have seen the roads here. They only have one road. If there will be a very big calamity (like) category 5 typhoon based on our scenario, this area will be isolated,” Sayson said
Sayson noted the importance of delivering relief assistance and responding to crisis in the province through sea if will become isolated.
“The help for the people here is through the sea and we call it as civil military operations by the sea,” Sayson said.
US Marine Brig. Gen. John Jansen emphasized the importance of the drill.
“Sometimes bringing relief from the sea is not the only way to save lives but the best way to save lives as we saw in Typhoon Ferdie last year,” Jansen said.
He said aerial reconnaissance was conducted to assess the magnitude of damage caused by the storm.
Civil Military Activities from the Sea followed where several rubber and rigid-hull inflatable boats transported medical personnel from BRP Tarlac (LD-601) to Dibacong port.
A US Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship, USS Sacagawea, which was near the LD-601 also sent troops, medical personnel and equipment at the port through MV-22 Osprey aircraft and UH-60 Blackhawk.
BRP Tarlac also send two Landing Craft Utilities (LCU) that transported Filipino and US responders with their medical equipment.
Despite its close distance to Benham Rise, Sayson said the exercise has nothing to do with the increasing military patrols there.
“No, this (exercise) does not include Benham Rise. We have planned this for a year and we see it is one of the probable areas that might be isolated in case of a calamity,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Romeo Tanalgo, AFP Northern Luzon Command chief, said aside from humanitarian drills the exercise also highlighted US and Filipino troops capability traditional roles of the military. Robina Asido/DMS