By ROY C. MABASA
The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) has a new assault boat maintenance facility in Puerto Princesa, Palawan to boost its maritime capability, thanks to the United States government.
Over the weekend, the US turned over the newly constructed facility in Puerto Princesa to the PMC as part of the PhP256.9 million ($5 million) small-scale construction Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant.
The facility in Palawan completes the three FMF construction projects, along with those in Zamboanga and in Ternate, Cavite which were turned over in November 2021 and in February, respectively.
The PMC conducted final inspection and acceptance of the Puerto Princesa facility on April 4, said in a statement released by the US Embassy in Manila.
US Senior Defense Official and Chief of the Joint US Military Assistance Group-Philippines Col. Stephen Ma said both Manila and Washington will continue to make “great strides” in pursuit of free and open waters.
“We are inspired to see the PMC pursue its bold and vital modernization plan to expand its presence and maintain its maritime fleet in order to meet the full array of challenges in these archipelagic waters,” Ma said.
Valued at approximately PhP17.5 million ($340,000), the Puerto Princesa facility consists of a 30m long x 16m wide x 4.5m high maintenance bay and a 5-ton gantry crane.
It will be used primarily by the PMC’s Assault Boat Battalion as well as other tenant commands co-located at the 3rd Marine Brigade Headquarters in Puerto Princesa. The mission of the Assault Boat Battalion is to conduct sea-to-shore amphibious operations as well as maritime interdiction boardings at sea.
During the turnover ceremony, PMC Commandant Maj. Gen. Nestor Herico emphasized the importance of the “ironclad US-Philippine partnership” coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the two countries’ bilateral relations.
“As we assemble here together, it is fitting that today marks 80 years since the Bataan Death March and this year marks the 75th anniversary of our relationship with JUSMAG. We are very grateful for this assistance and this alliance,” he said.
Statistics showed that the US has provided over PhP15.8 billion ($302.3 million) in grant assistance in the last five years alone, through FMF to support the Philippines’ sovereignty and military modernization efforts.