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Monday, December 21, 2009

JSOTF-P partners with AFP and local governments to dedicate two area coordination centers

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

SULU, Philippines- Armed Forces of the Philippines, local officials and members of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines came together to dedicate two Area Coordination Centers in Sulu province Dec. 15 and Dec. 17.

The ceremonies took place in the municipalities of Hadji Paglima Tahil Dec. 15 and in Pata Dec. 17. Both were made possible in part by funding and support from Sulu Governor AbduSakur Tan, AFP’s Task Force Comet and JSOTF-P.

“The children of Sulu are why we do what we do,” said JSOTF-P’s Task Force Sulu Commander U.S. Army Maj. Scott Malone. “We come together as partners of peace, to bring a brighter future for the children here,” he said.

Both ACCs consist of several buildings to include an administration building, a market area and a meeting hall local residents can use for community meetings.

In addition to using the ACCs for governmental meetings, they are also a venue for celebrations and official ceremonies.

The building turnovers came just days after Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Jolo Airport Runway.

The renovated airport was made possible with funds from the United States Agency for International Development’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao Program and the Philippine Department of Transportation and Communications.

During the Dec. 15 ceremony, Panglima Tahil Mayor Nedra Burahan thanked the AFP and JSOTF-P for their support of the project.

“Thank you for making my vision a reality,” said Burahan.

Also in attendance were Task Force Comet Commander Brig. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, Sulu Gov. AbduSakur Tan, and Jolo Mayor Hussein Amin.

The Dec. 17 ceremony on Pata Island was a welcome addition for the surrounding Barangays in the area. Previously, residents did not have a centralized facility to conduct official meetings and develop plans to improve conditions here.

“This project represents over a year’s worth of efforts by individuals not just here today, but the individuals who have surveyed the area and constructed the building. For all of them, I would like to say thank you,” said the U.S. Army Capt. Mark Grado, commander for JSOTF-P’s Liaison Coordination Element.

Fazlur-Rahman Abdulla, the ACC executive director, said during the ceremony that it is up to the people of Sulu to make full use of the building. He encouraged residents to meet there to discuss topics of concern. He also said that he appreciated the partnership between the AFP, JSOTF-P and local governments, that came together to make this project a reality.

In the coming days, more ACCs are scheduled for turn over to the Sulu government, signifying the commitment of the AFP and JSOTF-P to assist with bringing economic development and prosperity in the region.

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