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Friday, March 4, 2011

Philippine and U.S. Forces Support ‘Bayanihan’ Medical and Veterinary Outreach to Rural Communities in Sultan Kudarat Province

 The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 33rd Infantry Battalion conducted a joint Medical/Veterinary Civic Action Program on February 23, 2011 in various Barangay Pimbalayan and other barangays in the Municipality of Lambayong, Province of Sultan Kudarat on the island of Mindanao, the Southern Philippines. The Medcap/Vetcap was supported by members of U.S. Task Force Mindanao and multiple local non-governmental organizations such as ACIM-Asia (spell out first time) and Notre Dame College. The area of Pimbalayan has a long history of being a conflict area, according to Mayor Florante L. Agduma, who as a young man fought against lawless elements and nearly lost his life in the same area where the Med/Vetcap took place.

According to Ronnie G. Dardo, the new Deputy Chief of Police for the municipality of Lambayong, the area has recently been peaceful - a very different experience than what he was used to in his previous assignment in Makilala, Cotabato. He said they’ve accomplished great things considering the 33 officers cover the municipality’s 26 barangays.

The Medical Civic Action Program treated more than two hundred residents from around Barangay Pimbalayan, with treatment ranging from common cold remedies to dental work requiring tooth extraction.

Concurrently, a Veterinary Civic Action Program was also taking place nearby in four separate locations; Barangays Bagumbayan, New Cebu, Caridad, and Zeniban. Civil Affairs Team 351 assisted the provincial veterinary officer, Nestor Casador in treating a total of 79 carabao, 33 cows, 14 goats, and 2 dogs.

Pimbalayan Barangay Captain Alex Pablo and Mayor Agduma greatly appreciated the program’s benefit in bringing health and veterinary care services to the families and farmers of his rural community. They were pleased to have the presence of U.S. Forces in their area, working as partners with the AFP.

The event exemplified the ‘Bayanihan’ spirit of helping each other and showed the commitment of the local government unit, Armed Forces of the Philippines, JSOTF members, Non-Profit Organizations, and the Philippine National Police to work to provide livelihood enhancement, peace, and security to the people of Lambayong. The 33rd Infantry Battalion’s mission continues to demonstrate within Mindanao that the ‘Bayanihan’ effort is best demonstrated through action, not just words.

U.S. Task Force Mindanao and its higher headquarters, Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTF-P) works by, with and through the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their mission to confront terrorism, support its Internal Peace and Security Plan, and deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Mindanao.

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