2 classrooms built by PH, US troops open in Puerto Princesa

U.S. Navy Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5’s Detail Palawan, place concrete at the Malatgao Elementary School construction site. (U.S. Navy photo by Steelworker 3rd Class Taylor Myers)

MANILA, Philippines — Two new classrooms in Puerto Princesa, Palawan province have become one of the newest pieces of evidence of the benefits that the Philippines could derive from its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, which Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to end.

Puerto Princesa residents welcomed the two new classrooms that have been built by Filipino and American troops under arrangements through the VFA.


The classrooms were inaugurated Wednesday, February 19, at the Malatgao Elementary School, according to a statement from the US Embassy in Manila.

The new learning facilities were seen to provide comfort to a growing number of students in the school.


US Navy Lt. Joshua Moore, in the US Embassy statement, said the project provided a “much needed’ schoolhouse that would be used by more than 120 students.

“We are proud to assist this community working hand-in-hand with our Filipino counterparts,” Moore said in the statement.

Under the VFA, American soldiers not only train for war with their Filipino counterparts but also help in humanitarian efforts, like building or repairing schools.

The humanitarian work is part of the VFA, which governs joint undertakings between the Philippine and US armed forces that range from military exercises to disaster response.

The VFA, ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999, governs the mechanism for visiting American soldiers and serves as the foundation for military exercises and humanitarian work.

But Duterte decided to terminate the pact last week, going against the advice given by his foreign and security officials to review the agreement instead of junking it. The notice of termination will take effect after 180 days.

Stronger alliance

US Navy engineers, known as Seabees, have completed 24 humanitarian projects across the Philippines in the last four years, which have an estimated value of more than  P100 million ($1.9 million), the US Embassy said.


These projects included single- and double-room classrooms, water catchment systems, multipurpose school huts, and multipurpose communal buildings.

Aside from helping provide better living conditions to Filipino communities, the VFA also strengthens partnerships between long-time security partners the Philippines and the United States.

“I think working with US troops will make our alliance stronger and continue to increase our bonds for years to come,” said Apprentice Fireman Construction Electrician Joel Nioda from Zamboanga City.

“This will help unify and grow our bilateral relationship,” he said.

Edited by TSB

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