DND wants Marines to remain with Navy

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
DND wants Marines to remain with Navy
A proposed bill seeking to separate the Philippine Marines from the Philippine Navy is pending before the House Committee on National Defense. File photo
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Defense is opposed to a House proposal to separate the Philippine Marines from its mother unit, the Philippine Navy.
The House Committee on National Defense is currently studying House Bill 7304, which seeks to establish the Philippine Marine Corps as "an armed uniformed service, amphibious in character; distinct, autonomous, but complementary to the Army, the Air Force and the Navy, as an independent branch of service of the AFP."
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, both reserve Marine officers, co-authored the bill.
Lorenzana, however, pointed out that the marines are "expeditionary forces."
"In other countries like the US, their Marines, upon which we patterned ours, are utilized for overseas deployment. That is also true with the Royal Marines of the UK. Both units are invasion forces embedded with their navies," Lorenzana said in a statement.
Contrary to the US and the UK, the Philippines will not be invading foreign shores "anytime soon or ever."
Making the Marines, a naval infantry unit and amphibious force, a separate service doing the same functions as the Army would also be redundant as that would mean that there would be two ground forces in the country, the Defense chief said.
According to Lorenzana, the Army could easily learn the Marines' skills such as ship-to-shore operations. The Marines are currently deployed in Mindanao as an infantry force.

Marines envisioned as a small force

The Defense chief also stressed that the Philippine Marines was designed to pursue pirates and smugglers.
"It was originally part of the Philippine Naval Patrol, which was the forerunner of the Philippine Fleet. In short, the Philippine Marines was created as an adjunct of the Philippine Navy and it was envisioned as a small force only," Lorenzana said.
Upon filing the proposal to separate the marines from the navy, Alvarez and Fariñas pointed out that the Marines' lack of charter had caused "institutional challenges, including but not limited to fiscal and organizational restrictions."
"The archipelagic nature of the Philippines necessitates the imperative need for an expanded, rapidly deployable amphibious maneuver force primarily mandated to conduct seaborne, sustained onshore, multinational cooperation and engagements for the protection of its 7,641 islands and islets, the communities and the people therein, as well as respond to the needs of a nation prone to natural disasters," the House bill read.
The Philippine Marines was established in 1950 upon the order of then Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay to respond to the threat of emerging Hukbalahap insurgency.

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