House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday sought the immediate passage of a proposed law seeking to establish the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) as another major service command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to further strengthen its mandate of eliminating the enemies of the state.
House Bill (HB) No. 7304 or the “Philippine Marine Corps Act” filed by Alvarez and House Majority Floor Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas seeks to form “the PMC as a branch of service, distinct, autonomous, but complimentary to the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy (PN) under the AFP.” Currently the PMC is part of the Philippine Navy.
“Although the PMC has lived up to its mandate, its lack of Charter has caused institutional challenges, including but not limited to fiscal and organizational restrictions. Despite these, the PMC has provided seamless transition of military power between sea and land domains. The men and women of the PMC have served and responded to the call of duty gallantly,” Alvarez and Fariñas pointed out in seeking the passage of the bill.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, one of the stalwarts of the opposition, is a former Marine officer.
Last Tuesday, President Duterte personally pinned the rank insignia of Colonel of the PN-Marines on Alvarez at Malacañang where Fariñas, a Judge Advocate General reservist, also attended.
Earlier, the Commission on Appointments had confirmed their nomination to the rank of Colonel in the reserve force of the various services of the AFP.
HB No. 7304 will be deliberated by the House committee on national defense and security this Monday.
The PMC, currently a naval infantry force under the command of PN, was created 67 years ago through the AFP General Orders No. 319 issued by then Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay, a former President, in 1950 to respond to the security threat of the emerging Hukbalahap insurgency in Central Luzon.
The bill mandates the PMC to deploy its forces to support the law enforcement agencies in implementing the laws of the land, respond to disasters, participate in the strategic defense under the Joint Defense Force, coordinate with the other branches of service in the performance of their duties and responsibilities, and determine its fiscal requirements through the allocation from the Department of National Defense.
The PMC is also tasked to organize, train, equip, maintain, develop, deploy, and supervise the PMC Reserve Force, the measure said.
According to the proposal, the PMC will be headed by a commandant with a rank of Lieutenant General who will be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the AFP Chief-of-Staff and the Secretary of the DND and its three bases will be established one each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Alvarez and Fariñas credited the PMC behind the successful elimination of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-inspired terrorism in the heartland of Marawi City in Mindanao.
“Much blood has been spilled, lessons learned and experience gained in the service of the Filipino people with the loss of 1,437 men since 1950. In the 2017 Battle of Marawi alone, 36 brave souls gave their lives for the motherland,” the two House leaders said.
“They were the force combating terrorists in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi,” they said. “The vigorous men and women of the PMC are everywhere to alleviate the impact of disasters to the Filipino people.”