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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AFP and JSOTF-P Break New Ground in Isabela City

By Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly, Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines Public Affairs

BASILAN, Philippines – Members from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines and government officials celebrated the construction of Isabela City’s first Area Coordination Center during a ground-breaking ceremony Oct. 30.

With the land donated by the Isabela City government, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is coordinating the project with funding provided by JSOTF-P.

“It is really something that we can be proud of and after working with the people from JSOTF-P, we now have something concrete. We have been working with them for the past year and they gave priority to our hospitals, our education, they have been in our schools, and now this project. We are just really happy,” said Ramon Nuna, Isabela City administrator.

The project is expected to take about two months. Four buildings are planned on the roughly 3,000 square meter (28,000 square feet) property, located in Barangay (community) Sunrise. The buildings will serve as a location for government, the AFP, Philippine National Police and non-profit organizations to hold meetings, as well as a place of celebration for weddings and birthdays.

“I am so happy that this center will serve as place of peace and development efforts. I know that the U.S. has helped so many Basilans,” said Isabela City Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar. “Any group or organization will be able to use this facility once completed.”

The buildings are planned to be the focal point for much of the city’s disaster planning and give government leaders an area to coordinate future development projects.

The ceremony began with brief remarks by many of the lead coordinators for the project, including Lt. Col. Fernandez Gomez, commander of AFP’s Marine Battalion Landing Team-One, who expressed his appreciation for the assistance of the U.S. forces.

“I want to convey my gratitude to the U.S. team for not only the work of this project for the last nine months, but for many other projects in my area of responsibility,” said Gomez.

Later, the mayor, Gomez, and U.S. Army Capt. Charlie Claypool, assigned to JSOTF-P, buried a capsule containing the maps and blueprints of the project. This signifies the beginning of the construction efforts.

JSOTF-P has worked in collaboration on a number of construction projects in Basilan, including another ACC in Lamitan City and the recently started road construction project in Tipo-Tipo.

“It’s so great to work with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the local government officials including the mayor to bring peace and development to Isabela City. We are honored to be a part of this construction effort,” said Staff Sgt. Douglas A. Jones, a member of JSOTF-P’s Civil Affairs Team 734.

At the request of the Philippine government, JSOTF-P partners with the AFP on a number of construction projects including schools, roads, and other infrastructure projects with the hope of bringing stability to the region.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information and it is really a proud thing that this two forces has come along for such a good cause.

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