Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara yesterday pushed the passage into law of a bill transforming the Philippine Marine Corps into an independent service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Angara, in pushing Senate Bill No. 1731 or the Philippine Marine Corps Act, said that the PMC, despite the lack of charter, has provided seamless transition of military power between sea and land domains.
“After their heroism in Marawi and past battles, it’s high time that we reward and recognize their achievements through its institutionalization,” Angara said.
Under the present setup, Angara noted that the PMC is a naval infantry force under the command of the Philippine Navy.
Once approved into law, the PMC shall become the fourth service branch of the Armed Forces that is equal and mutually independent as the three existing branches of the AFP – the Philippine Army, the Philippine Air Force, and the Philippine Navy.
Angara said the PMC could play a crucial role in terms of protecting the country’s territorial waters amid the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise disputes.
“The country’s archipelagic makeup necessitates the need for a comprehensive yet rapidly deployable amphibious force primarily mandated to conduct seaborne and on-shore tactical operations to protect the country’s territories, communities, and inhabitants,” said the senator, who is a member of the PMC Board of Advisers.
Under the bill, the PMC would include ground combat, combat support, combat service support, aviation component, and such other units as may be necessary for the pursuit of its mandate.
“Just like the United States Marine Corps and the British Royal Marines, the Philippine Marine Corps is considered the shock force of the Armed Forces and is the first unit to be involved in any amphibious or seaborne clashes,” said Angara.
The bill seeks the establishment of a PMC headquarters in all three major regions of the country – with the command center in Mindanao serving as its national headquarters – so they can carry out the powers and functions of the PMC.
“All of the PMC headquarters shall be in strategic locations where it can sustain its deployed forces,” he said. (Hannah L. Torregoza)