News Release

A Model Partnership: LDS Charities and the Philippine Navy

What makes an effective partnership between two organizations? The primary ingredient is trust followed closely by commitment.  The Philippine Navy’s Civil Military Operations Group (CMOG) , headed by Colonel Dante Hidalgo hand in hand with the 7th Marine Brigade, the Reservist Unit of the Philippine Marine Corps , and headed by Colonel  Benjamin I Espiritu, has forged a working relationship with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2010 and has since been doing  several joint humanitarian projects. This is an example of such a partnership.

Colonel Rodylyn T. Manzano Deputy Brigade Commander and G7 for Civil, Military Operations, 7th Marine Brigade emphasizes the need for such a partnership by quoting from the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” Handbook.   It states, "The primary objective of AFP internal security operations shall be "Winning the Peace" rather than simply defeating the enemy." She further quotes that “A focus on winning the peace is likewise an acknowledgement that a purely military solution will never be enough to achieve peace. Unity and harmony of efforts with other stakeholders is essential. The Internal Peace and Security Plan focuses on the people. A people-centered security puts people's welfare at the center of its operations.”

Elder Benson Misalucha, director of the Church’s welfare department in the Philippines, recalled, “We were impressed by the organization and discipline of the Marines and how well they work with the community. We see the Marine Corps as a trustworthy partner on the ground.”

Trust and Commitment:

The first project of the Church involving the CMOG Navy and the 7th Marine Brigade was designed to aid the white corn farmers in Cagayan Valley who were affected by the drought in 2010. The Church provided seeds for the 1,000 farmers and the Marines gave technical support in training and distributed the seeds and equipment to them.

In addition to the general farming endeavor, the farmers were also trained to establish organic vegetable gardens behind their houses that would give them food in the event of a future typhoon wiping out their white corn fields. The Church again provided the seeds and seedlings.  The military technical support offered the training on organic vegetable farming as well as organic fertilizer and pesticide production, to teach these farmers an alternative occupation rather than having them dependent on a dole.

Checking back after a month, the farmers were anxious to show off their gardens. Menchie Silvestre (currently of TV5) said, “The farmers were pulling us over to show off their backyards. One farmer thought something was wrong with his eggplant because it was so large.” It was not necessary to provide additional seeds as these industrious farmers regenerated their own seeds and the farmers were paying it forward by sharing the new seeds with others.  In one area 70 farmers were providing seeds for an additional 30 families. At this point the project is self-sufficient.

Additional Projects:

The following are additional projects using the CMOG/Marines/Church partnership. TV 5’s foundational arm, Alagang Kapatid, under the leadership of Executive Director Menchie Silvestre, is now working with both organizations in providing the locations for other humanitarian projects which come under LDS Charities and their country director, Elder Roger Hardick. LDS Charities is the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

·  Wheelchair training and distribution where the Marines are providing much-needed storage space for the wheelchairs until they are distributed to other Church partners. Wheelchairs from an LDS Charities supplier in Cagayan de Oro were also accommodated for transport to Manila via C130 aircraft.

·  Lobster farming: In 2011, the Marine Battalion Landing Team 11 based in Bunbon, Patikul , Sulu, partnered with the Church who provided 15 lobster cages to selected  beneficiaries on a pay forward type of project. The Church provided the materials to build the cages.  The fishermen, with the help of the Marines, who provided security as well as manpower, built the cages.

The project began middle of last year and has been reaping the rewards of a good harvest since then. At the advice of the Marines, the fishing community in the area was inspired to put up a Marketing Cooperative for their produce. This step has increased the number of lobster cages since new recipients were inspired by the abundant lobster harvest that gives them a very substantial income.  In the beginning, as their counterpart in the project, the 15 fishermen were to provide the fingerlings (baby lobsters) and be responsible for their care. It takes a year to have a lobster become full grown, but the wait is worth it as wholesale prices of the lobsters at that point is P2, 200 per kilo.

·  School supplies have been donated by the Church and delivered to several parts of the country for several years now.  This year, in partnership with TV5 Alagang Kapatid Foundation and the 7th Marine Brigade, school kits will be distributed to children in selected barangays in Tawi Tawi and Sulu the third week in June.

·  A Medical and Dental Civic Action Program involved the Marine Battalion Landing Team-10 in Talipao, Sulu in 2011. The goal of the operation was to deliver needed medical and dental services to the indigenous people of the region. The Marines worked with LDS Charities to distribute wheelchairs for six beneficiaries (ages 11, 28, 38, 55, 60 and 90). Medicines were also donated and it was a welcome surprise to the Marines as well as the recipients who happily noted that the medicine handed out was new and not near to its expiration date as was experienced with previous donations from other NGOs.

·  Children in Tent Cities: The Marines worked in cooperation with the Catholic Relief Services to acquire land for tents following last year’s typhoon. The occupants’ houses are now in a “no build zone” which means they must remain in the evacuation housing.  LDS Charities will be providing kits with whistles, raincoats and hygiene materials for the occupants.

One indication of the success of a project is whether or not it has become self-sufficient. Another is if it can be replicated. Most of these projects have become self-sufficient or at least require minimal maintenance. These projects have also been duplicated by people in other places in the Philippines.

Currently, there are 32 typhoons predicted for the coming year, and this “perfect partnership” will continue with disaster relief efforts. Elder Hardick enthusiastically expressed this idea, “The Philippines is the model  for disaster relief infrastructure.”  TV5 finds the locations of need, the Church provides for the relief supplies and materials as well as volunteers from Mormon Helping Hands.  The 7th Marine Brigade Reservist Unit of the  CMOG Navy, Philippine Marine Corps  handles the training, transportation and distribution of goods along with security.  This format is also the model for disaster relief efforts in other parts of the world.

Colonel  Manzano concluded, “Recasting its strategy, the AFP Internal Peace and Security Plan highlights the need to further engage more stakeholders, national government agencies and local government agencies, civil society organizations and community based groups to strengthen its mission to ‘win the peace,’ to create an environment conducive for sustainable development and a just and lasting peace.”

Additional Resources

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