Sulu Residents Celebrate New Road and School in Kagay
January 21, 2010
SULU, Philippines-Armed Forces of the Philippines Joint Task Force Comet and Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines turned over an elementary school and the Kagay-Langpas road to local government officials in a ceremony at Barangay (community) Kagay Jan. 14.
The school and road are just two of many development projects taking place in Sulu through the cooperative efforts of the AFP, local officials and JSOTF-P. The projects are designed to provide economic opportunities for residents and give the children of Sulu better educational facilities.
At the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of JTF Comet and Col. William Coultrup, commander of JSOTF-P and Maj. Scott Malone, commander of Task Force Sulu turned over a key and wrench to Kagay Barangay Chairman Ganih Nur., symbolizing the completion of both projects.
"The people here have already improved their incomes since they now can easily move the fruit they grow to market while it is still fresh and in good condition," said Nur. "As a result they get better prices at the market. The road also opens up possibilities for residents to be employed in Jolo City," he said.
The projects were completed through the combined efforts of the Philippine Marine Corps and the U.S. Armed Forces. U.S. Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion-One built the school, while AFP Marines from Marine Landing Battalion Team-6 provided security.
"We are partners in peace. We are here to support the children to provide opportunities for education, medical care and a road that can take your goods to market so you can to earn money for your Barangay and improve the lives of your children," said Malone.
The road cost P19 million to complete, stretches five kilometers and was built by local contractors.
The school will accommodate 250 students and was built for P7.2 million. It includes four classrooms, restrooms, a complete septic system, electrical power distribution, lighting, fans and a generator. A contracting company completed the roof of the school.
The completion of the school was especially important, as construction was delayed by a tragic incident in September.
On Sept. 29, two Army Special Forces Soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher D. Shaw and Staff Sgt. Jack M. Martin, and Pfc. Jerwin J. Estrada of the Philippine Marine Battalion Landing Team-6 were killed when their vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device as they travelled to the school site. The Soldiers were conducting a resupply mission in the vicinity of the school when the incident occurred.
At that point, construction was halted for six weeks while teams regrouped and a security plan was reestablished. Contractors and Navy Seabees then returned to the area, determined to complete the project. Finishing the school demonstrated a resolve that lawless elements could not halt infrastructure development in Jolo.
"I am thankful to JTF Comet and Task Force Sulu for the efforts with the projects being handed over today. On behalf of the people of Kagay, we extend our sincerest thanks and request continued support from the AFP and the Americans," said Nur.