The Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, along with Civil Affairs Team 351 of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), representatives of the Municipality of Pikit and Department of Education, and local leaders, conducted a ribbon-cutting and school-opening ceremony on March 15, 2011 in a rural community previously ravaged by conflict.
This project, initiated over a year ago by the Local Government Unit and JSOTF-P, resulted in a school building with three classrooms, a water tank, basketball court, comfort room, administrative building, and generator shed that will serve more than 200 students. The students also received a donation of two basketballs and a volleyball set. According to the school principal, the students previously walked up to 20 kilometers to go to the nearest school.
A 7th Infantry Battalion Civil-Military Operations Officer noted that there has been a positive change in the attitudes and disposition of the population in this conflict-affected area since the school was built.
Parent-Teacher Conference Association President Mr. Yaqob stated that he was very pleased to see the presence of U.S. forces. “It was necessary to have U.S. forces and Philippine Army working together as a united front to bring peace and order to Mindanao,” he said.
JSOTF-P supports and shares information with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and delivers humanitarian assistance to the people of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago at the Philippine Government’s request and in support of the Philippine Government’s Internal Peace and Security Plan.