It used to be the most formidable, fearsome naval force in Southeast Asia.
But decades of budgetary constraints and shift in military policy left the Philippine Navy at
the tail end of the regional naval modernization race.
The government is only beginning to play catch-up in terms of new war vessel acquisition,
weapons modernization, equipment upgrades, and strategic thrusts.
Henceforth, the PN would no longer be strictly a force to reckon with in safeguarding our
seas, oceans, coastlines and all aquatic mineral resources within our maritime territories.
The PN would take on a greater role as a land defense force as seen in the recently ended
An official of the PN sees the need for Navy force units, especially those involved in ground
assault missions, to get more training and exposure in urban warfare.
In an interview, PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado said subsequent
debriefings after the liberation of Marawi City indicated a need for the force to train more on urban
"We have to improve our military operations in urban terrain. We need to improve that... I
guess this is the first time we undertook combat in an urban terrain with reinforced and concrete
buildings so those are the things that we need to look into, improve both our trainings, doctrines and
all our equipment," Mercado said during the sidelights of the homecoming ceremonies for the returning
Fleet-Marine contingent in Pier 13, Manila South Harbor on Monday.
Despite the lack of training in urban warfare, the Navy units, especially those from the
Philippine Marine Corps, were instrumental in the eventual liberation of Marawi City from terrorists,
The Marines recaptured three important bridges in the city -- Mapandi, Banggolo, and Masiu. He
said regaining control of these bridges allowed the government to deploy more troops and combat
vehicles in the main battle area.
Around 920 Maute Group terrorists were killed in the five-month campaign that started last May
23 when government troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts.
In the fierce fighting that followed, around 165 government troops were killed, including 35
Meanwhile, The Philippine Navy (PN) has spent nearly half a billion pesos for ammunition and
fuel during the five-month battle to remove the Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City.
"Well, as far as the PN is concerned, just for the ammunition (and fuel) alone we nearly
extended half a billion pesos and just imagine the number of trips this year to bring all our AFP
combat vehicles, artillery, ammunition and people from all over the different islands down to Iligan
and the fuel for our helicopters," he said.
Also, Mercado said that he is more than satisfied with the PN's combat performance in the
Marawi City campaign.
"Very, very satisfied if the President is satisfied with the performance of the AFP, I am more
than satisfied with the performance of our sailors and marines," he added.
The returning contingent's size is estimated to be around 500 to 600 personnel and consists of
marines, sailors, aviators and "Seals" deployed in Marawi City during the height of the battle.
These personnel were transported from Iligan City to Manila by the BRPTarlac, one of the two
brand-new strategic sealift vessels of the PN.