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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

MBLT-3 and Task Force Sulu Treat Patients and Animals at MEDCAP and VETCAP

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

SULU, Philippines- Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Marine Battalion Landing Team-3-with assistance from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines-treated 135 patients and 31 farm animals in Barangay (community) Asin, located in the Panamao municipality Jan. 7.

Held at the Tabuasin Primary School, AFP, JSOTF-P and regional health officials partnered for the Medical and Veterinarian Civic Action Program, bringing much-needed medical and veterinarian services to the coastal barangay.

Previously, many residents had never seen APF troops before and historically lawless groups have resided in the region.

Officials at the MEDCAP and VETCAP hope that by bringing these organizations together for free medical services, it can help provide peace and stability and improve the health for people in this remote area.

“I am honored to be here today. We have a long, working relationship with MBLT-3 to help the people of Sulu. We have done many projects, to include school renovations, roads, piers, and wells. We hope that through the support provided today, we will continue this friendship,” said the U.S. Army Special Forces team leader for Liaison Coordination Element 1333-B.

At the opening ceremony, several key leaders spoke including Asim’s Barangay Chairman, MBLT-3’s Civil Military Officer Lt. Francisco R. Sayoc, JSOTF-P Veterinarian Lt. Col. Stephen Goldsmith and the LCE 1333-B team leader.

As medical and veterinarian services are virtually non-existent in the region, the event provided an opportunity for residents to receive treatments for themselves and their animals. Patients received check-ups and prescription medications and animals were treated with deworming medications and vitamin supplements.

“This was a very successful MEDCAP. The Panamao Regional Health Office pretty much ran the event. They brought heath care providers, midwives, pharmacists and nurses. They worked closely with MBLT-3 to make today happen,” said a U.S. Army Special Forces Medic at the MEDCAP.

“JSOTF-P provided the vet services and donated medications, but it was the cooperation of the AFP and the local health and government officials who really deserve the credit for this event,” he said.

Throughout the day, children received crayons with coloring and comic books. To pass the time waiting for treatment, kids sang, danced and watched movies with AFP Marines in a nearby classroom.

MBLT-3 and JSOTF-P regularly partner for a number of medical programs, including a weekly medical clinic at the AFP’s Marine Camp Tandu Batu, which serves populations from Luuk, Omar and Panamao municipalities.

Since the current LCE team deployed to Sulu in late July, more than 1,700 patients have received care via MEDCAPs and other medical outreach programs. U.S. Army Special Forces medics and the JSOTF-P veterinarian work shoulder-to-shoulder with AFP Marine medics and regional health officials treating minor ailments, vaccinating animals and performing tooth extractions and minor surgeries.

Additionally, teams here provide parasite control medications and vitamin supplementation for livestock.

“We hope that by coming here today, we have built good relationships and demonstrated that war is not the solution. We come to show that the people here are very important to us,” said 2nd Lt. Zues Alondra, an officer with MBLT-3.


  1. Great activity. I would like to extend my filipino thanks and appreciation to the men and women of JSOTF-P for helping our government and the military closer our people in Panamao. I hope that you will continue similar activities in the future.
    I would like to disagree though on the statement that " Previously, many residents had never seen APF troops before and historically lawless groups have resided in the region". I believe our fellow filipinos there have seen much of our troops since the "70s. Numerous clashes with the MNLF/MILF has been fought in the area. I think the 104th Infantry Brigade, 1ID was assigned in the area from 2001-2007.
    In my readings and observations (as much that your unit is already conducting FID and IDAD,a lot of CIVACs has already been conducted in Panamao area, yet there seems to be little improvement. Likewise, USAID has also poured-in a considerable effort in alleviating the situation in the area with little effect. It points out that the culture in the area significantly contributes to their current state. I hope that your unit could also find time to look into this matter and perhaps inject a lasting solutions to the myriad problems besetting our countrymen in the area. - efren morados

  2. Efren,

    Thank you for your comment. You bring up several interesting points. While JSOTF-P does assist and advise AFP and Local Government Units, we also rely on the people here to develop lasting solutions to the peace process.

    Do you have any ideas on what you personally think should happen to affect lasting peace and stability in the region? Thoughts?

    Thanks again for your comments.

  3. I thank you for posting my comments.

    Well apart from the capacity and "capability building" efforts that your unit is doing and taking into considerations the unsuccessful efforts that have been done in the past, i think one of the problem lies in the system. For instance - sincerity and accountability of the implementors. More often than not the programs are implemented halfhazardly with self interests tied into it. Likewise, diversity (religion, ethnicity, etc..) issues among the implementors (to include the military) have to be addressed in order for the program implementation phase to be effective. A particular program will never be sustained if from the start it is biased and prejudged to fail.
    Fixing the system may not fall into your FID or IDAD programs, but i hope your unit can look into this so that your and our government efforts will be sustainable and lasting. -efren

  4. Thank you again for your feedback. Yes, we have seen several examples where the various Marine Battalion Landing Teams in Southern Mindanao do check back on the development projects and maintain an active, positive presence in the local community. Our presence here is to assist and advise, but it is the AFP who takes the lead on these project and deserves the credit. I agree with all of your points and that there are always self-interest aspects tied into any undertaking. We do our best though to share our best practices with the AFP and hope that as a team, we can work together on sustainable programs. Ones that are not just a hand-out, but involve the support and maintanance of everyone involved: the AFP and the local community.

    Thanks again,

    LTJG Theresa Donnelly