Marines Transport Nearly 60,000 Pounds of Humanitarian Relief to Disaster-Struck Philippines

Philippine airmen palletize family food packs for flood relief
Philippine Air Force service members palletize family food packs at Villamor Airbase, Pasay City, Philippines, Feb. 11, 2024. The U.S. Marines of III Marine Expeditionary Force are supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development in providing foreign humanitarian assistance to the ongoing disaster relief mission in Mindanao. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Savannah Mesimer)

The Marine Corps delivered nearly 60,000 pounds of aid to the southern Philippines over the weekend after the country was hit by torrential rains and deadly mudslides.

Pacific-based Marines were tapped to provide humanitarian assistance following flooding that has affected roughly 1.2 million people and displaced hundreds of thousands of residents in the Mindanao region. Troops with the III Marine Expeditionary Force out of Okinawa, Japan, worked with other government agencies to deliver meals to the armed forces of the Philippines for distribution until the government can "restore essential services," according to a service press release Monday.

A defense official told on Monday that, over the previous day, two C-130 Hercules aircraft from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, or VMGR-152, conducted three sorties to the city of Davao, Philippines, delivering the thousands of pounds of aid.

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"Support to our allies and partners, and their people in a time of need, is a non-negotiable," Lt. Gen. Roger Turner, the III MEF commanding general, said in the press release. "Working in direct coordination with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the government of the Philippines, we stand ready to support those who need urgent assistance."

The aid that the Marines brought included several pallets of family food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, a Philippines agency, according to posts from the service. Images posted by the Marine Corps on Sunday showed forklifts carrying pallets of support near a KC-130 at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, Philippines.

The support from the Marine Corps, as well as USAID, came at the request of the Philippine government, according to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Last week, USAID provided shelter for more than 5,000 people, according to the embassy.

The flooding began at the end of last month when extensive rainfall beset Mindanao. The Philippine News Agency reported earlier this month that 18 residents of Mindanao were killed in the flooding, while thousands of families were evacuated from the area, but the death toll appears to have grown.

Just northeast of where the Marines delivered the aid, 54 people were reportedly killed after a landslide hit the village of Masara in Davao de Oro province, according to The Associated Press on Sunday, another incident that has left thousands displaced due to the effects of the heavy rains.

Stars and Stripes reported that the Marine Corps' efforts involved 20 Marines with VMGR-152 and that they delivered roughly 15,000 food packs.

Last year, Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, along with the USS America Amphibious Ready Group, were ordered to Papua New Guinea after one of that country's most active volcanoes erupted, affecting more than 12,000 people there.

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