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US soldiers in northern Cebu for a humanitarian mission

By: Benjie B. Talisic, Nestle L. Semilla June 28,2017 - 11:40 PM

USAF Staff Sergeant Kelley Cofford, a therapist, attends to a patient during the US Air Force–led humanitarian project “Pacific Angel 2017” held at the Libertad Elementary School in Bogo City on June 28, 2017.
CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON

PACIFIC ANGELS 2017

Filipino and American soldiers came together, not for a war exercise this time but to fix a public school’s ceiling and to attend to the medical needs of a variety of patients — from a simple cough to eye-related health concerns, in two areas in northern Cebu.

The project involved about 140 soldiers from the armed forces of the Philippines and the United States of America, who joined hands for a US-initiated project dubbed as “Pacific Angel 2017” held in Bogo City and the town of San Remigio.

The activity, which has benefited at least 5,000 patients and a public school and at least 15 households with fixer-uppers, enabled soldiers with engineering and medical backgrounds from both armed forces to exchange knowledge and expertise.

Pacific Angel 2017 or PACANGEL is a joint and combined multinational humanitarian assistance engagement which is directed by the US Pacific Command and executed by Pacific Air Force.

For their 10th anniversary, PACANGEL decided to focus their humanitarian assistance in Bogo City and in San Remigio town, which began last June 23 and will end on July 3.

US Air Force (USAF) Lt. Col. Edward Khim, PACANGEL 2017 Philippines USAF mission commander, said the activity will help both armed forces learn from each other’s best medical practices.

Khim said that the activity also serves as training for both armed forces by providing medical, dental, optometric and engineering assistance, and conducting subject matter expert exchanges while giving back to the community.

Aside from the medical mission, at least 40 engineers did house-to-house repairs within Bogo City. The soldiers fixed the electrical wiring and did plumbing services to more than a dozen houses.

US soldiers and their Filipino counterparts also repaired the ceilings, sidewalks and comfort rooms of the Libertad Elementary School in Barangay Garian, Bogo City.

The US armed forces also provided medicines for free to the patients they attended to.

Khim said their activity in northern Cebu was the first of the four humanitarian engagements of PACANGEL this year. The other places will be in India, Fiji and Nepal.

Lt. Col. Paula Hoang, USAF medical lead, said that as of yesterday, they have attended to about 5,000 patients since they started holding the medical mission last Monday.

“We have medicine specialist, physical therapist and a pediatrician, optometrist and pharmacist. We are working with a lot of partners,” Hoang said.

She said that aside from the US military, they also have soldiers who are doctors and engineers from Australia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii and Japan, among others.

Col. Danilo Ibon, PACANGEL AFP mission commander, said that it was the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US Embassy that chose the places for the humanitarian assistance.

He said that all expenses are paid by the US armed forces. The medicines and other construction materials were purchased by the US military locally.

Dr. John Cinco, a retired USAF personnel and a medical practitioner, said he was happy that the humanitarian project was conducted in his hometown, Bogo City.

Cinco, then in active service in the USAF, was one of the people behind the creation of PACANGEL ten years ago. He retired in 2011.

“I’m happy that on the tenth-year anniversary of PACANGEL, it is conducted in my hometown,” Cinco said.

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