Send in the Marines!

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“The Marines are likewise stationed in the Kalayaan Islands Group, protecting our western border and enforcing our nation’s claim to the disputed territory.”

Malacañang on Thursday revealed the possibility of President Rodrigo Duterte sending Marines to Boracay to help in the removal of illegal structures built on the island paradise.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the local government was considering asking the President to deploy Marines in the island to help in the rehabilitation efforts of the tourist destination. (ABS-CBN News, March 15, 2018)

There is a saying “when all else fails, send in the Marines!”

The saga of the Philippine Marine Corps began in 1950 when then Secretary of National Defense Ramon Magsaysay conceived the idea of a ready sea-borne strike force that would check the activities of the pirates, bandits and other lawless elements operating along the country’s extensive coastline. By virtue of AFP General Order 319, authority was given for the organization of the first Marine battalion as a unit of the Philippine Navy.

The Marines conducted their first amphibious landing in Urimay, Quezon on April 19, 1951 as part of the AFP’s anti-Huk “Operation Dragnet.” On June 5 of the same year, they assaulted and captured a Huk camp at the Zaragoza-San Antonio border in Nueva Ecija.

From then on, the Marines have always been in the combat zone.

The Marines were successively deployed in one area of the archipelago to another. They carried out operations against pirates and smugglers in the Sulu Sea, and against Kamlon in Jolo. They were tasked to neutralize private armies in Batanes and the Visayas and assisted in the anti-criminality drive in various provinces of Luzon.

The Marines distinguished themselves in quelling the secessionist uprising in Southern Philippines that started in the 1970s. Among their major encounters and victories were the Liberation of Marawi, Battles of Jolo, Punai and Sibalo, the siege of Camp Seit, landings in Tuburan, Siasi, Lapa and Saluyod, the Tarawakan and Sanga-Sanga operations.

The Marines were deployed in Bicol, Bataan, Davao, Bukidnon, Surigao and the National Capital Region during the government’s counter-insurgency operations in the 1980s. At the height of the kidnappings in the 1990s, the Marines were tasked to neutralize the Mubarak kidnap gang and the Abu Sayyaf, among other kidnapping cases.

In the Central Mindanao campaign at the end of the last decade, the Marines were front and center in the Battles of Kauswagan, Camp Bushra, Lanao del Norte all the way up to Camp Abu Bakr. This led to the taking of the 42 MILF camps along the Narciso Ramos Highway and the seizure of Camp Darul Amman, the headquarters of the MILF inside Camp Abu Bakr.

The Marines played a major role in the Zamboanga siege and had the most accomplished sniper unit during this campaign against the MNLF.

In the Mamasapano follow-on operations, they captured the BIFF camp Al Sharifa. They fought against Basit Usman’s group and their operations led to the capture of BIFF personalities involved in the killing of the SAF 44.

They once again played a major role in last year’s liberation of Marawi. They recovered P79 million in cash and checks from the Maute Group and led the taking of the strategic Mapandi Bridge and two other strategic bridges which eased up the movement of government forces and supplies to the main battle area.

By September the Marines had already reached their assigned objective along Lanao Lake. They retook the White Mosque, the control of which enabled fleeing hostages to be secured and protected.

From fighting the Huks to ISIS, the Marines have participated in all major military campaigns since its inception in 1950.

The Marines are likewise stationed in the Kalayaan Islands Group, protecting our western border and enforcing our nation’s claim to the disputed territory.

Aside from their tradition of bravery and victory, the Marines serve a distinct purpose for ensuring the country’s national security. The Philippines is an archipelago with 7,641 islands. It has the second longest coastline in Asia (36,289 km). Thus, the country has a need for a rapid, deployable, maneuverable armed force that can respond to different crises and contingencies, be launched from the sea, leveraging the sea as its maneuver space. The niche of the Marines is seaborne warfighting. They serve as invisible bridge that will connect the islands across the littorals.

It is with all of these in mind that House Bill 7304 (authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas), Senate Bill 1731 (authored by Sen. Sonny Angara), Senate Bill 1741 (authored by Sen. Nancy Binay) and Senate Bill 1748 (authored by Sen. Miguel Zubiri) have been filed to institutionalize the Philippine Marine Corps and make it an autonomous branch of service.

The proposed legislation will effectively have the Air Force develop forces that specialize on air warfare and control of the airspace, the Army develop forces that specialize in land warfare and control of the land, while the Navy will develop forces that specialize in sea warfare and control of the maritime zone. The unique role of the Marines will be to develop forces that will specialize in maneuvers along the littoral environment – island to island, landward to seaward, seaward to landward and seaward to seaward.

The Marines will complement the Navy by being the naval combat power projected from the sea towards the shore. They will complement the land-based maneuvers of the Army through their ground combat maneuvers.

With the institutionalization of the Marine Corps Charter and its autonomy, we create a stronger Armed Forces of the Philippines and enhance national security.
The bottom line: Send in the Marines.