By Ben Rosario
Faced with serious internal and external security concerns and broader responsibilities towards its allies, the country can expect improvement in its national defense capabilities with the passage of a bill seeking to establish the Philippine Marine Corps into an independent service command under the AFP.
Former Senator Rodolfo Biazon and several members of the House Committee on National Defense echoed this view as they strongly backed the passage of House Bill 7304 or the Philippine Marine Corps Act.
Authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Farinas, HB 7304 proposes to separate the Marines from its mother unit, the Philippine Navy, and establish the PMC 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.”
Alvarez and Farinas are reserved Marine officers who were recently promoted to full colonel.
Currently being studied by the House Committee on National Defense, HB 7304 quickly won bipartisan support.
Assistant Minority Leader and ACT-OFW Partylist Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz JR. batted for the immediate approval of the bill, stressing that a separate Marines service will help boost the country’s national security capabilities.
Reps. Ruffino Biazon (PDP-Laban, Muntinlupa City) and Johnny Ty Pimentel (PDP-Laban, Surigao del Norte), both majority members of the defense panel, noted that an archipelagic state like the Philippines requires a strong military unit with exceptional amphibious capabilities for military defense and disaster response.
Pimentel and Bertiz asked the principal proponents to include them as co-authors of the bill.
“Although the Marine Corps is a relative small unit compared to the other major services, there are some administrative and operational aspects that may justify its establishment as a separate service such as budget allocation. Command structure and unit distrinction from the Navy,” said Biazon.
Rep. Biazon is the son of former Sen. Biazon, who served the Marines for 28 years and became its commander.
The elder Biazon cited the timeliness of the filing of the legislative proposal, saying that an independent Marine Corps will a vital role in internal security operation and more “importantly, in the area of external ground force defense”.