The success of the marine troops, particularly the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4), in terms of internal security operations will serve as a challenge for its replacement, the MBLT-7, as it takes over in securing Palawan in the southern part of the province,” Western Command (WESCOM) chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos said.
Carlos made his remarks during the welcome ceremony for MBLT-7 at the Camp Rodolfo Punsalang of the 3rd Marine Brigade (3MBde) on Wednesday, June 28.
He noted that in the past 12 years, MBLT-4 has been in the province conducting internal security operations (ISO), participating in territorial defense, and humanitarian and disaster response (HADR).
The top military official in the province specifically mentioned that MBLT-4 has been most successful in ISO where he said countless combat operations have resulted in the neutralization of threats in southern Palawan, referring to the rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).
“Let me focus on the ISO where I think MBLT-4 has done an excellent job and also a major contributor to finally seizing our most coveted strategic filtering against internal security threats,” Carlos said.
“In fact, the entire AFP last year has already declared the strategic victory against internal security threats and we are hopeful that this year, we will have total victory,” he added.
Carlos added that after threats from the NPA has been decimated and with the remaining combatants leaving the province, Palawan has been confirmed as NPA free, leading to the declaration by the Provincial Peace and Order Council to declare Palawan as insurgency free. He said he is now looking forward to the formal declaration upon validation by the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Headquarters.
“I would like to thank not only the MBLT-4 but the entire 3rd Marine Brigade who has been working very closely with the PNP, the PCG and others who are involved in ISO to finally neutralize the enemy and declare Palawan as insurgency-free,” he said.
He also said the accomplishments of MBLT-4 serves as a welcome note for the MBLT-7 to continue and maintain.
“You just have to continue the gains of MBLT-4, you have already achieved strategic victory. Now the challenge is for you to sustain it and make sure they don’t come back,” Carlos said.
He added that with the experience that MBLT-7 went through, it will not be hard for them to perform their new mission.
He explained that the southern part of the province has always been a hardened target to make sure that it will be difficult for any parties planning to enter.
“These are combat-ready, battle-tested, experienced marine troopers that we are deploying in the south [so] they better think twice,” he warned.
“With your history, coming from Marawi battling Maute terrorists, and then in Sulu and to Tawi-tawi to fight Abu Sayaff, If people some parties will attempt to enter Palawan or challenge our peace and order, and security, especially in the southern backdoor where they will be stationed, the only thing I can say is, they will get what they deserve with MBLT-7,” he boldly predicted.
Meanwhile, Carlos said with the arrival of additional troops in the province, they are starting to slowly shift focus from ISO to external security operation.
He said that while the deployment of MBLT-9 to the province is primarily for HADR operations, they were sent here to also “beef up our effective occupation of our islands with increased presence in WPS.”
He added that the battalion is a Marine Amphibious Ready Unit (MARU), so it is not stationary but a strike-anywhere force that will continuously train together with the Philippine Navy.
“With the arrival of MBLT-9, that the first sign that we are really shifting, as has been announced many times already that we are going to shift to external security operations,” he explained.
“Hopefully, we will see more signs, then we will increase our up-tempo in our external security operations of our territorial defense with our naval presence for our maritime awareness campaign in the WPS,” he added.
The MBLT-7 was also welcomed by 3MBde commander Brigadier General Antonio Mangoroban, and other military officials and stakeholders.
There are now three battalions in Palawan—MBLT-7, MBLT-3, and MBLT-9.