Senator Sonny Angara is pushing for the passage of a bill that seeks to transform the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) into an independent service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Under the present set-up, the PMC is a naval infantry force under the command of the Philippine Navy.
Under Senate Bill 1731, the PMC shall become the fourth service branch of the country’s 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.
“Despite the lack of charter, the Marines Corps 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.
The senator 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,” he said.
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, who is a member of the PMC Board of Advisers.
To carry out the powers and functions of the PMC, the bill seeks the establishment of PMC headquarters in all three major regions of the country–with the command center in Mindanao serving as its national headquarters
“All of the PMC headquarters shall be in strategic locations where it can sustain its deployed forces,” he added.
The PMC shall be headed by a Commandant, who would carry the rank of Lieutenant General.
The Commandant shall be directly appointed by the President from among its Marine Corps Generals, upon the recommendation of the AFP Chief-of-Staff and the Secretary of the Department of National Defense. Senate Press Release