PH, US conclude Pacific Partnership mission

Published August 17, 2022, 9:09 AM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Philippines and United States militaries officially concluded the Pacific Partnership 2022 (PP22) in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan with an enhanced interoperability among its units especially in the field of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, the Western Command (WesCom) disclosed Wednesday, August 17.

Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro (second from right), Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, participates in an activity during the closing ceremony of the Pacific Partnership between the Western Command (WesCom) and the United States Navy’s Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on August 16, 2022. (Photo by WesCom)

The closing ceremony held aboard the US Navy hospital vessel “Mercy” on Tuesday, August 16, was graced by Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos, commander of WesCom; and Rear Adm. Mark Melson, commander of the US Navy’s Task Force 73.

Bacarro extended his gratitude to the United States and other partner nations for providing humanitarian assistance to the Filipinos, particularly the Palaweños who had been adversely affected by natural disasters in the previous months.

“Through the Pacific Partnership, we have seen how the PH-US bilateral capability on HADR has grown and developed,” Bacarro said.

Now on its 17th year, the PP22 — hosted by the Philippines since August 3 — was the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region. It is a program sponsored by the US Navy Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) and executed by its Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) in coordination with partner nations (PN).

Representatives from the Philippines, United States, Australia, Republic of Korea, and United Kingdom worked together on a range of activities and projects in Palawan, specifically related to subject matter expert exchanges, multilateral engineering and health engagements, environmental security, and maritime security.

Over time, the PP has evolved from an activity focused on direct assistance to disadvantaged populations to one that looks to further advance regional resiliency, interoperability, and security, according to Melson.

“This strengthens our ability to work together, especially in a situation of need, such as a natural disaster or any other situation requiring humanitarian assistance,” Melson said.

Through the PP22, about 7,000 patients and beneficiaries in Puerto Princesa were served through the conduct of health fairs, health education, dental, optimetry and radiology services, surgical care, and veterinary assistance.

The partner nations also conducted activities to strengthen community relations such as tree planting, puppet shows, book reading, sports, “Brigada Eskwela,” mall tours, and band performances.

Moreover, military units also benefitted from various trainings such as mountain search and rescue, collapsed structure search and rescue, healthworker education, humanitarian supply chain management, incident command system and camp coordination and management.

Selected barangays also became recipients of renovated facilities and other engineering projects by the WesCom and US Navy’s INDOPACOM.

“Team WESCOM and the people of Palawan are grateful to our friends from the US armed forces for the Pacific Partnership Program. It has not only strengthened partnerships through exchange of expertise as well as civil-military exchanges but it also has prepared our nations for interoperability in extending humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” Carlos said.

“PP22 will be remembered by the Palaweños with gratitude and has truly helped civil-military participants to work together in an improved system of regional coordination and disaster response, and enhanced security and stability in the region,” he added.