Pick culture, US troops told
Culture, yes. Bars, no.
American servicemen on a 10-day humanitarian mission in La Union had been told by their commander to visit cultural and tourist sites and avoid activities that may offend Filipino sensibilities during their free hours.
Capt. James Mayer, US Task Force Forager commander, made the suggestion to his men in Pacific Partnership 2015 with their Filipino counterparts, one of the biggest US military-sponsored humanitarian missions in the Indo-Pacific region.
“They should instead visit heritage and cultural sites in return for the hospitality of the host country,” Mayer said.
The guidance served to remind US servicemen of the case of Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton who is on trial in Olongapo City for the murder of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.
Pemberton allegedly picked up Laude in a bar during the US Marine’s furlough after taking part in the Balikatan joint military exercises with Filipino forces in October last year.
The US Navy warship USNS Millinocket docked at Poro Point in La Union on Tuesday at the start of its humanitarian mission.
Mayers said that instead of bar-hopping, his men must be back on the ship or their respective stations after conducting their daily humanitarian and medical activities in various places.
However, the US servicemen are free to visit heritage and tourist sites in the province so they could learn about the culture of the people.
He said the Philippine Military Academy has organized a group tour for US sailors, Marines, military engineers and medical personnel of the country’s premier military school in Baguio City.
According to Capt. Albert Mogol, Philippine Navy commander in Poro Point, the US servicemen were invited to visit the Baluerte Watch Tower in Luna town, a disintegrating Spanish-built citadel; Bacsil Bridge, where the retreating Japanese Imperial Army held last stand in San Fernando City; Kasay Marine Sanctuary, home of 100 of the 400 coral species in the country; Tomb of Unknown Soldier, located along the diversion leading to the Poro Point Special Economic Zone, and the Pindangan Ruins.
The province also boasts of beautiful beaches for swimming and surfing, in Bauang, San Juan, Agoo, Caba and the Urbiztondo Surfing area in San Juan.
Mogol said Filipino soldiers and policemen will provide security for the US servicemen who visit these sites.
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