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HISTORY of the PHILIPPINE ARMY

(1945 - 1985)

By the
Office of the Army Chief Historian
PHILIPPINE ARMY
Fort Andres Bonifacio, Metro Manila

Volume II

2011

i
PHILIPPINE COPYRIGHT

By the

Office of the Army Chief Historian


Philippine Army
Fort Andres Bonifacio, Metro Manila

All Rights Reserved

ISBN 978-971-011-308-8

1st Edition

March 2011

ii
HISTORY OF THE PHILIPPINE ARMY

Volume II

COUNCIL OF ADVISORS

LIEUTENANT GENERAL ARTURO B ORTIZ, AFP


Commanding General, Philippine Army

MAJ GEN ROMEO D LUSTESTICA AFP VC, PA


MAJ GEN RENATO A DAVID AFP CS, PA
BRIG GEN ROLANDO B TENEFRANCIA C, ARMO
COL DONATO B SAN JUAN GSC (INF) PA AC of S, G1
COL PAOLO LEO MA. G MICIANO GSC (FA) PA AC of S, G2
COL OSCAR T LACTAO GSC (INF) PA AC of S, G3
COL ROBERT M AREVALO GSC (QMS) PA AC of S, G4
COL ANGELITO M DE LEON GSC (FA) PA AC of S, G5
COL TEODORO D RAQUEÑO MNSA (GSC) PA AC of S, G6
COL FRANCISCO L PABAYO INF (GSC) PA AC of S, G7
COL ARNEL DELA VEGA GSC (INF) PA AC of S, G8
COL QUIRINO S CALONZO GSC (CAV) PA AC of S, G9
COL BENJAMIN R MADRIGAL JR GSC (INF) PA C, MFO

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DEDICATIONS

“To the Unknown Soldiers and Heroes of the Past,” who


fought gallantly in the liberation of the Philippines, and
in the preservation of democracy and peace all over the
world...

This book is also a “Salute” for the righteous and heroic


deeds of the present soldiers in fighting for freedom,
democracy and rights of the people in attaining peace
and progress in the Philippines.

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v
A Tribute to the Soldier

“There is no doubt about the bravery and fighting skill of the


Filipino soldier. The 31 million South Koreans are very grateful.”

Syngman Rhee
President, Republic of South Korea

“The keynote of the army’s contribution to peace is total


competence in waging war.”

General Eduard C Meyer

“All over the world today, peoples and governments are realizing
that the most important wars maybe fought not on the field of
military combat but in boardrooms, schools and community
centers. All along, the Philippine Army has helped the nation
exploit the opportunities to bring the country to its desired goals
of reform, change and sustainable development.”

Fidel V. Ramos
President, Republic of the Philippines

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword v

Preface vii

Table of Contents viii-x

Introduction xi

Chapter I - Reactivation of the Philippine Army 1-31

Background
Guerilla Units
Re-establishment of the Philippine Army
Headquarters Philippine Army as an Autonomous Unit
Other Organization Changes
Loyalty and Disciplinary Boards
Military Education and Training after the War
National Defense Plan
Reorganized Philippine Army
Reorganization of Headquarters Philippine Army

Chapter II - The Anti-Dissidence Campaign 32-62

Background
Origin of the Dissident Problem
Introduction of Communism in the Philippines
Hukbalahap Movement
The Huks after the War
General Amnesty Proclamation
Huk Depredations
CPP Machinery Streamlined
Major Army Operations
Anti-Subversion Law
Role of Magsaysay

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Intensification of Intelligence Operations
Fall of the Politburo

Chapter III - Battle Stint in Korea 63-89

Background
The 10th Battalion Combat Team
The 20th Battalion Combat Team
The 19th Battalion Combat Team
The 14th Battalion Combat Team
The 2nd Battalion Combat Team

Chapter IV - Participation in the Vietnam War 90-120

Background
Operation Brotherhood
The First Philippine Contingent to Vietnam
Awards/Commendations
PHILCON I’s Accomplishments
Arrival of PHILCON II
PHILCON II’s Activities
PHILCON III
PHILCON IV Absorbed by PHILCAGV
Personnel of the 1st PHILCAGV
Logistics
Comptrollership
Significant Accomplishments of 1st PHILCAGV
Operation Climax
PHILCAV Replacement Unit (PRU)
Accomplishments

Chapter V - Insurgency in the Sixties 121-138

Background
Genesis of Student Activism
Subversion of Labor and Professional Groups
Combat Effectiveness
Intensified Operations against CPP/HMB
Birth of the Secessionist Movement

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Counter - Insurgency Measures
Combat and Intelligence Operations
ͥ
Chapter VI - Philippine Army under Martial Law 139-205

Background
Suspension of the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus
Corpus’ Defection
Digoyo Point Incident
Birth of the New Society
Army’s Mission and Objectives
The Army’s Role in National Development
The Kamagong Concept
Education and Training
Revitalization
National Security Operations (Sibalo to Zamboanga del Sur)

Chapter VII - Motivation and Enlightenment 206-229

Background
AFP Home Defense Program
Motivation and Enlightenment

Endnotes 230-232

Bibliography 233-237

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Introduction

The second volume of the book, History of the Philippine


Army 1945 - 1985 starts with the command rising from the ashes of
World War II. Headquarters Philippine Army was reorganized and
established as an autonomous unit.

In the nineteen fifties, the Army was confronted with a dangerous


threat posed by the Huk movement. The Army’s tactical operations
cushioned with psychological and socio-economic programs for the
people broke the backbone of the Huk rebellion.

Even as the Army was winning the hearts and minds of the
enemy, it extended a helping hand to war-torn countries in Asia. To
preserve world peace and democracy, the Philippine government sent
five Battalion Combat Teams (BCTs) to beleaguered South Korea. In the
Vietnam War in the sixties, the Army sent contingents of Army doctors,
nurses, engineers and psywar experts on a mission of peace.

The onset of the sixties saw the resurgence of insurgency. The


period saw the birth of the New People’s Army, the military arm of the
Communist Party of the Philippines and the birth of the secessionist
movement initiated by the Moro National Liberation Front.

With the imposition of Martial Law in the seventies, the Philippine


Army, along with other major service commands, bore the brunt of
carrying the great burden of transforming the nation into a New Society.
The ten-year Revitalization Program was launched to develop the
organization as a potent force in national defense and nation building.

The book also deals with the command’s focus on the


revolutionary restructuring of the attitudes and values of all members the
Philippine Army, primarily through the conduct of motivation and
enlightenment programs.

We hope the book, which tells the courage and dedication of


Filipino soldiers to the nation, be an important reference material in the
field of Army History.

Richard Wilhelm B. Ragodon


Chief, Office of the Army Chief Historian

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STAFF OF THE OFFICE OF THE ARMY CHIEF HISTORIAN

Mr Richard Wilhelm B Ragodon (CE) Army Chief Historian


MSgt Jose M Arnold (Inf) PA Chief Clerk
TSg Bernardo C Donguines (Inf) PA Historical NCO
SSg Aguinaldo V Regalado (Cav) PA Supply NCO
Ms Leonora N Trajano (CE) History Researcher II
Ms Eufemia L Robles (CE) Researcher
Ms Thelma M Nerizon (CE) Researcher
Ms Evelyn U Hernandez (CE) Researcher
Ms Irene E Igban (CE) Researcher
Mr Ruel P Moreno (CE) Clerk

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Chapter I

REACTIVATION OF THE ARMY

Background

The Pacific war broke out in December 1941 before the


Philippine Army could be fully mobilized. The citadel-type defense
that General Douglas MacArthur first adopted gave way to War
Plan Orange, which prescribed the holding of Bataan and
Corregidor until further reinforcements from America arrived. In
the meantime, the gallant stand of the Filipino and American
forces which comprised the United States Armed Forces in the
Far East (USAFFE) kept aflame the torch of freedom. It was a
triumph of the human spirit in the quest for peace and liberty.

However, with the quick victories of the Japanese forces


in Central Pacific and America’s failure to deliver the much
awaited succor, the Filipino and American defenders were left with
no recourse but surrender to the Japanese military might on 9
April 1942 in Bataan. MacArthur had, by that time departed for
Australia on orders of then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. Lt
Gen Jonathan Wainwright took over as Commanding General of
the USAFFE, which was redesignated Unites States Forces in the
Philippines (USAFIP). Barely a month after the fall of Bataan, on 6
May 1942, Wainwright finding his position in Corregidor untenable
also yielded to the enemy.

After the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, some Philippine


Army units in Northern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao continued
the fight underground. As guerillas, they maintained the officer
hierarchy and a conventional military-type organization providing
some form of continuity for the Philippine Army. General
MacArthur returned to the country in late October 1944 to liberate
the Philippines against the Japanese invaders.

At war’s end the Philippine government estimated total


losses in life and property at P16 billion, with over one million lives
lost.

1
Guerrilla Units

With the Japanese advances, individual units cut off from


their mother units formed pockets of resistance in the mountains
of Luzon, while units in the Visayas and Mindanao, realizing the
futility of trying to defend the long coastlines, conducted protracted
guerrilla type defense strategies. MacArthur who was in Australia
coordinated with these units, utilizing them to obtain intelligence
and to harass the Japanese.1

The guerilla operations involved largely the services of


U.S. and Philippine Army troops who did not surrender, as well as
other patriotic Filipinos. These groups conducted tactical
offensives and intelligence operations in enemy-held territories.
They also guarded supply dumps and depots, bridges and other
strategic installations. Moreover, they launched offensive actions
prior to U.S. landings to clear and isolate military objectives.
When the American troops landed, they would usually find that the
beaches have been cleared by guerillas that were ready to assist
the US advance to the hinterlands.

The cooperation of these guerillas was immeasurable in


the various campaigns to liberate the country from the occupying
Japanese forces. Most Filipino guerillas provided intelligence on
the enemy and the terrain, security for the advance parties sent by
MacArthur and, in some instances, did the actual fighting thus
helping speed-up the Philippine liberation campaign.

On the day of the return of General MacArthur and his


liberation forces in Leyte on 20 October, 1944, then President
Sergio Osmeña issued Executive Order No. 20 placing into active
service in the reconstituted Philippine Army all personnel who
served with recognized guerilla units.2 This paved the way for the
reinstatement of Philippine Army personnel who were members of
recognized guerilla units. Three days after the Leyte landing,
President Sergio Osmeña also directed the establishment of the
Headquarters Philippine Army in Tacloban, Leyte on 23 October
1944. Speaking in the “Voice of Freedom” a liberated radio on
November 23, Osmena cited the crucial role of the guerillas:

2
Intramuros, Manila on fire after an air attack, December 1941(WM. H.
Wise and Co. Inc., 1944)

Filipino combatants plant dynamite sticks to destroy a bridge and


in effect, to slow a Japanese advance, January1942. (U.S. Office
of War Information)

3
“The world will long remember the epic stand of the
guerillas. After the fall of Bataan and Corregidor and the
tragic defeat of the allied armies in Asia, our people found
themselves pitted against the might of Japan. Then the
guerrillas came into being. It was the people’s fight from
the beginning, hungry and unclothed, but gave battle to the
enemy from every nook and corner of the land. For three
seemingly interminable years and despite unbelievable
hardships they carried the torch of freedom, confident that
America would not fail them…”3

Re-establishment of the Philippine Army

The Philippine Army became a part of the reconstituted


USAFFE with Maj. Gen. Basilio J. Valdes as the Chief of Staff.
Valdes’ tenure as Chief of Staff was brief. When he was appointed
as a member of the War Crime Commission that tried Japanese
war criminals after the war, he was succeeded by his deputy, Brig.
Gen. Rafael Jalandoni, as Chief of Staff with Brig. Gen. Macario
Peralta, Jr as the Deputy. Upon representations of Gen. Valdes,
Major Tirso Fajardo became the first post-war Assistant Chief of
Staff for Operations, G3, PA, making him the youngest army
officer ever to hold such high position and responsibility.

When Manila was liberated in March 1945, Headquarters


Philippine Army was relocated to the capital city from Tacloban,
Leyte. From there, all supervision and direction of the army
henceforth emanated. With HPA in Manila, the city became the
cornerstone for the rebuilding and reactivation of the Philippine
Army. The need for reactivating more units became more urgent.
Deserving guerilla units were given official recognition and were
integrated into the Army. At the same time, the recovery of all
surviving Army personnel was expedited when HPA activated five
replacement battalions. The 1st Replacement Battalion was
stationed in Leyte, the 2nd in Bayambang, Pangasinan, the 3rd and
the 4th at Camp Murphy, Quezon City, and the 5th in Lanao. Later,
the 6th Replacement Battalion was organized in Iloilo. In liberated
areas in the country, the government’s main problem was on the
reestablishment of peace and internal security.

4
The war left the Philippines a vastly ravaged land.
Rehabilitation efforts were hindered by the worsening peace and
order situation aggravated by the proliferation of loose firearms left
behind by the war, and the resurgence of vice and criminality
which local police agencies could hardly contain. A national police
organization was created to assist the local police forces in the
maintenance of peace and order. On June 7, 1945, President
Osmeña issued Executive Order No.51 activating an insular police
force called the Military Police Command (MPC) which was placed
under the Philippine Army.4 This unit was given a three-fold mis-
sion: the restoration of peace and order following the liberation;
the enforcement of military orders and regulations of the Army;
and providing assistance to civil authorities in law enforcement
except in combat zones where fighting was still ongoing against
the Japanese

To delineate responsibility and enhance the efficiency of


operations, the MPC was organized into the Luzon, Visayas, and
Mindanao zones. The Luzon zone had twenty six provincial
commands under its jurisdiction; the Visayas zone had twelve;
and the Mindanao zone had ten. The MPC’s first commanding
general was Brig. Gen. Federico Oboza who graduated from the
PC Academy and was commissioned as a regular officer. Oboza
was succeeded in June 1946 by Brig. Gen. Mariano Castañeda,
who was also a regular officer of the pre-war Constabulary. By
that time, though, the MPC had been designated as the Philippine
Constabulary. All in all, 112 MP companies were placed under
the control and supervision of the MPC, PA. However, the
Commanding General, MPC, U.S. Army Forces, Western Pacific,
exercised overall operational control over the command’s
activities.

Also during this time, Headquarters Philippine Army had


the following components: Central General Staff, Special Staff,
Camp Complements, Replacement Battalions, and other activated
units, such as the Air Corps and the Off-Shore Patrol.

Later, five Philippine Army divisions were organized out of


the recognized guerilla units. These were the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and

5
Guerillas use captured Japanese equipment, 1944. Note the horse
as ammunition truck. (PA Museum)

A former school teacher demonstrates to a G.I. how she killed


an enemy, Leyte, 1944. (Collier’s Magazine, Dec 16, 1944)

6
PA engineers clear away the last of the Japanese destroyed bridge
across Butac River, Ilocos Sur, 10 June, 1945. (US Army Photograph)

th
Filipino soldiers of the 25 Div. receive “Bronze Star” medals for their
meritorious services in Northern Luzon, 29 June 1945. (US Army
Photograph)

7
A post-war Military Police Station. Note jeeps with white side wall
tires. (National Library)

Military Police personnel, 1946. Note military vehicles still with


Faded U.S. Army livery or markings. (National Library)

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6th Divisions. The 2nd Division was formed out of the USAFIP, NL
force led by Lt. Col. Russell Volckmann, the American officer of
the 31st Infantry (US) who did not surrender to the Japanese. The
4th Division was comprised by guerilla units that operated in the
eastern Visayas. The 5th Division was composed of units in
Western Visayas. The 6th Division assimilated all recognized
guerilla units in Mindanao.

The Philippine Army Air Corps (PAAC) which later became


the nucleus of the Philippine Air Force rose like the fabled phoenix
from the debris of war. Its officers and men returned to military
control after Gen. MacArthur established the Army’s provisional
headquarters at Tacloban. Some of these PAAC pilots later
became post-war Philippine Air Force Chiefs and key officers like
Eustacio D. Orobia, Benito N. Ebuen, Pedro Q. Molina, Jonas A.
Victoria, Augusto L. Jurado, Victor M. Dizon, Jose B. Ramos,
Emmanuel G. Casabar, Juan B. Guevarra, Jesus L. Singson,
Antonio D. Evangelista, Fidel T. Reyes and Felix T. Pestana.

From the PAAC, two units were activated to become part


of the Army. These were the First Air Service Group organized on
July 29, 1945, with Headquarters at Nielson Field, Makati, and the
First Troop Carrier Squadron, constituted on September 1, 1945
and stationed at Lipa Field, Batangas. Captain Roberto Lim, a
Filipino officer of the U.S. Army Air Forces, served as the
Commanding Officer of the First Troop Carrier Squadron. The
Squadron operated eleven C-47s and four L-5s in support of the
Army’s ground operations. The squadron also conducted training
runs and provided air transport for U.S. and Philippine Army
personnel. Anticipating expanded activities related with internal
security, priority was given to the instruction and training of pilots,
aviation cadets, weathermen and maintenance crews. A total of
175 rated pilots and student-officers underwent training in the
United States.

The Off-Shore Patrol (OSP) was activated on October 1,


1945, with an initial strength of 42 officers and 69 enlisted men.
This strength was later increased to 55 officers and 419 enlisted
men. The OSP was utilized primarily in coast guard operations in

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cooperation with the MPC. When the unit expanded, it was tasked
as the coordinating agency for the enforcement of immigration,
anti-smuggling, fishing, and maritime navigation laws. An eight-
week theoretical training course was conducted aboard vessels
turned over by the US Navy to the unit.

Headquarters Philippine Army as an Autonomous Unit

Two months after the liberation of Manila and the


subsequent transfer of the Army’s headquarters to the capital city,
the Central General Staff of the HPA was reorganized. In effect,
this reorganization enabled the HPA to operate as an autonomous
unit. It ceased to function as a mere section of USAFFE
headquarters. Later, the Philippine Army organized the Land
Combat and Service Force. In July 1945, a total of 98,225 officers
and men were assigned to PA units while many guerillas were still
undergoing processing at cantonment sites.5 In the meantime, the
U.S. also began processing all personnel of guerilla units,
eventually reaching a total of 317,792 officers and men. This
roster, however, was later trimmed down to 250,000 officers and
men due to U.S. budgetary constraints.

By this time, HPA had the following components: the


Central General Staff, which was comprised by the Assistant
Chiefs of Staff, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4; the Special Staff, comprised
by the Adjutant General, the Judge Advocate General, the Chief
Quartermaster, Chiefs of the Ordnance Service, Medical Service,
Signal Corps, Corps of Engineers, Finance Service, Chaplain
Service and other Special Services; and the Replacement
Battalions.

The Philippine Army was still in a disorganized state when


hostilities with Japan officially ended in August 1945. To speed up
its organization and rehabilitation, USAFFE headquarters ordered
all Army personnel to report to military control. This rehabilitation
program was resorted to in consideration of the nation’s financial
limitations to support and maintain a large Army.

10
On logistics, the Philippine Army was still dependent on the
U.S. Army as the Philippine Army was paid, fed, clothed and
equipped by the U.S. Army. The Philippine Commonwealth
Government’s appropriation of P300,000.00 annually was in-
adequate to pay the salary increases of enlisted personnel.

It became apparent that maintaining an Army of around


250,000 officers and men was very costly as the expenditures
required a huge outlay which the national government could
scarcely afford. To address this situation, the government carried
out a gradual demobilization of the Army. The first phase of the
demobilization scheme was the deactivation of units which were
ordered created but were not organized. Officers and men
assigned to irregular camps and attached guerilla units but not
part of the U.S. Army were incorporated to the Army organization.
The second phase was the demobilization of selected units then
existing while the third phase was the deactivation of units whose
missions were already completed. The carrying-out of this plan
enabled the government to cut-down the Army’s personnel
strength to 30,000 officers and men by June 30, 1946 - barely four
days prior to independence.

Other Organization Changes

Shortly after Manuel Roxas was elected as President of


the Republic on April 23, 1946, he conducted an immediate
rehabilitation of the war-torn country. Realizing that the seething
social ferment contributed to the precarious peace and order
situation all over the Philippines, he immediately undertook
remedial steps. This he did on the strength of Executive Order No.
94 issued on October 4, 1947, which revamped the entire strata of
the national government. Under this order, all offices under the
Executive branch were affected. However, this policy ended
abruptly when President Roxas died of a heart attack on April 15,
1948 at Clark Air Base, Pampanga.

With Roxas’ death, Elpidio Quirino his Vice President


succeeded him and adopted another policy which called for the

11
restructuring of the Philippine Army based on an approved
reorganization plan.

This reorganization brought about drastic changes in the


designation of various Army units, among which were the
following:6

1. The designation of Army of the Philippines was changed


to Armed Forces of the Philippines, while Headquarters, Army of
the Philippines was renamed Headquarters, National Defense
Forces.
2. The Military Training Command became the Philippine
Ground Force.
3. The naval arm, the Off-Shore Patrol, became the
Philippine Naval Patrol (PNP) which was tasked with the en-
forcement of laws and regulations on custom immigration, fishing,
navigation and quarantine operations. It likewise assumed control
of the Philippine National School.
4. The Military Police Command (MPC) was transferred to
the Department of Interior and was constituted as the Philippine
Constabulary, the national Police Force
5. The Central General Staff became the National Defense
General Staff while the Special Staff was renamed the National
Defense Staff.

Of the existing Special Staff Offices, four more divisions


were added. These were the Historical Division which was created
on July 23, 1947 pursuant to General Orders No. 168, GHQ, AFP,
the Research and Development Division (RDD) which was
charged with conducting scientific research and studies of value to
national defense; the Education and Recreation Division; and, the
Public and Legislative Relation Division.

As reorganized, the Armed Forces of the Philippines was


composed of three major commands: The Philippine Ground
Force, the Philippine Air Force (formerly the Philippine Army Air
Corps), and the Philippine Naval Patrol.

12
The transfer to the Department of the Interior of the
Philippine Constabulary (formerly the MPC) was done in order to
effect a more efficient discharging of its police functions.7All
functions of the MPC, except those of military character, were
thereafter exercised and assumed by the PC. This set-up enabled
the Armed Forces to devote its time to its primary function of
providing defense and security for the entire country as invoked in
the National Defense Act.

On May 5, 1948, the ten pre-war military districts were


deactivated and were replaced by four Military Areas. The 1st
Military Area had its headquarters in Camp Ord, Tarlac, with
twelve provinces and two cities in Northern and Central Luzon
under its jurisdiction. The 2nd Military Area had its headquarters in
Canlubang, Laguna with eighteen provinces and seven cities in
Southern Luzon as its area of responsibility. Cebu City was the
headquarters of the 3rd Military Area and had ten provinces and
four cities in the Visayas under its jurisdiction. The 4th Military Area
had its headquarters established in Cagayan, Misamis Oriental
with responsibility over ten provinces and two cities in Mindanao.

After the activation of these four Military Areas, Maj. Gen.


Rafael Jalandoni, then Chief of Staff addressed the worsening
peace and order situation prevailing throughout the Philippines.
He recommended the creation of combat units designed for anti-
dissident campaigns. In line with this, two Battalion Combat
Teams (BCTs) were activated (the 1st and 2nd) and the 2nd Infantry
Training Battalion and four artillery batteries were reassigned from
the PC to the AFP.

When the Huk rebellion worsened in the later part of 1949,


seven additional Battalion Combat Teams (BCTs) were activated
and thrown into the forefront of the AFP’s anti-dissident campaign.
These were the 3rd BCT stationed in Fort McKinley, Rizal (now
Fort Bonifacio); the 4th BCT in Umingan, Pangasinan; the 5th BCT
in Camp Ord, Tarlac; the 6th BCT in Floridablanca, Pampanga; the
7th BCT In Sibul Spring, Bulacan; the 8th BCT in Lucena, Quezon
and the 9th BCT in Camp Evangelista, Misamis Oriental.

13
On March 30, 1950, the Philippine Constabulary became a
major service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by virtue of
Executive Order No. 308 issued by President Quirino. All PC units
in Luzon were placed under the operational control of the
Commanding General, AFP, by virtue of Administrative Order No.
113. Tasked with the function of a national police force, it also
participated in the peace and order campaigns.

The last of the major revamps of the AFP was in effect on


December 23, 1950, when President Quirino issued Executive
Order No. 389 which reorganized the entire structure of the Armed
Forces. The order renamed the Headquarters Armed Forces of
the Philippines as General Headquarters, AFP and activated four
major services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),
namely: the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Constabulary (PC),
Philippine Air Force (PAF) and Philippine Navy (PN).

Loyalty and Disciplinary Boards

After the war, the government was faced with the task of
weeding out the undesirable elements in its newly-reconstituted
Armed Forces. The loyalty of personnel as well as anomalies and
irregularities committed during the Japanese occupation had to be
determined and checked.

To fulfill this task, Headquarters Philippine Army created


the Loyalty Status Board for the purpose of “separating the
undesirable elements in the PA found guilty of culpable
collaboration with the enemy.” Subsequently, two review boards
and forty-nine investigative bodies were organized to investigate
cases of officers and personnel who were accused of conniving
with the Japanese.

To infuse true discipline in the newly-organized Army, the


following were likewise created: Absentee Status Board, General
Court Martial, Awards and Decorations Board, Regulations Board,
Promotion Board, Complete Disability Discharge Board and the
Retirement Board.

14
Military Areas and Commanders, 1957

15
Military Education and Training after the War

After the war, the national government launched an


extensive training and education program designed to meet the
present and future needs in its continuing task of providing
security for the country. This program required the Army to have a
ready pool of highly-trained and skilled manpower resource in
advancing its professional development. To achieve this, selected
personnel were sent to local and foreign military service schools.
A number of Army personnel received and completed training in
foreign military schools like the Adjutant General Service School,
Cooks and Bakers School, and the Quartermaster Mess
Management School. These institutions augmented the training
offered by the U.S. Army Athletic Staff School, and the Chemical
Warfare School at Alabang, Muntinlupa, Rizal.

The development of the reserve component of the Army


was intensified through better direction and supervision of ROTC
training in colleges and universities throughout the country.
Qualified 22-year old male Filipino citizens were trained for a ten-
month period for the Army’s reserve build-up campaign. A total of
12,000 trainees were targeted to undergo basic military course of
instruction for each calendar year. Because of the magnitude of
the training program, the Military Training Command (MTC) was
created to act as the implementing arm for reserve component
training. Under this command were training cadres, service
schools, ROTC units and the Reserve Officers Service School.

From the ruins of the war, Lt. Col. Tirso Fajardo was
handpicked by President Roxas to re-establish the Philippine
Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio in 1947. As the first superinten-
dent of PMA after the war, Lt. Col. Fajardo rebuilt the Academy
and simplified its intricate set up by instituting reforms which are
still in effect today. Courses of instruction were revised to conform
to the requirements of a well integrated education program.

In addition to classroom instruction, the cadets were also


given more time for educational tours and practical instruction with
the regular units of the Armed Forces. This he did in accordance

16
with the AFP’s accelerated program to promote professionalism
and competence among its officers. Utilizing its training funds, the
PMA sent several of its organic officers to pursue graduate and
special studies to local and foreign educational institutions. Thus,
the PMA became a more effective and efficient institution and the
primordial source of regular officers of the Philippine armed
services.

Along with the Reserve Officers Service School (ROSS),


the ROTC and the Military Training Command, the PMA provided
a solid training ground which was a major factor in gearing the
Armed Services to a higher degree of military competency and
preparedness reserve forces. After a nine-month training course,
the first batch of 3,000 twenty-year old trainees was graduated in
1949. They were the first post-war crop of trainees who were
infused with the Battalion Combat Teams of the Philippine Army.

On June 16, 1948, the Philippine Ground Force (formerly


the Military Training Command) had completed the training of the
first post-war batch of ROTC cadets in Camp Floridablanca,
Pampanga. In other parts of the country, a total of 6,500 basic
ROTC cadets also finished their prescribed course of instruction in
various training camps. About 3,000 of them underwent further
training in Floridablanca. By this time, the total ROTC enrollments
were 20,000 which were 68% higher than the previous year. In
response to this increase, 17 new ROTC units were activated in
Luzon and in Visayas. Furthermore, the Philippine Ground Force
had also successfully conducted several field exercise and
maneuvers, up to battalion and battalion combat team levels. The
Philippine Ground Force School graduated 107 officers to build
the leadership capability of the Army.

The Huk rebellion which rose to its height in 1949 caused


the AFP to shift its training programs into high gear. It intensified
its training activities by conducting field exercises and maneuvers
to round up the formal military education of the regular and
reserve forces. After a nine-month training course, the1st batch of
3,000 twenty-year old trainees was graduated in 1949. They were
the first post war crop of trainees who were infused with BCTs of

17
Officers, Mess Management Course Class 2, 16 Nov 1946.
(National Library)

Brig. Gen. Claro B Lizardo, CG, PGF, addresses graduates of


Advance Infantry Course # 2, 1951. (National Library)

18
the Philippine Army.

Likewise, absorbed into the trainee service school was


another 3,000 ROTC cadets who completed their summer training
in 1948. By June of 1949, 4,300 ROTC cadets had completed
their training. Training went on unabated and the graduates were
assigned to the reserve units of the I and the II Military Areas.
Later, the trainees took part in a combined field exercise that was
held in Marikina, Rizal, in January 1950, with all services of the
armed forces participating.

By March 1950, 66 ROTC units throughout the country had


been activated with a total enrollment of 34,500 cadets. It has also
appointed 123 Advance Course cadets as probationary Second
Lieutenants and gave them the required training at the PGF
School in Floridablanca, Pampanga to qualify them for com-
missionship in the Reserve Force of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines.8

Preparatory Military Training (PMT) was conducted


throughout the country for all third and fourth year high school
students in accordance with the National Defense Act. This
program was effectively carried out with the assistance of the
Philippine Ground Force School in Floridablanca which conducted
a course for public and private high school teachers who took
charge of PMT training in their respective schools.

Concurrent with the build-up of the reserve officer corps


was the development of the enlisted personnel. Also, career
development of officers in regular course was likewise attended
to. Aside from the Refresher Courses, the PGF School also
conducted advance courses for field grade regular officers who
had no training since the war ended.

In line with the U.S. Military Assistance Program, the AFP


sent a number of its enlisted men to service schools in the United
States. ROTC cadets who graduated with honors were also given
the opportunity to train at the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School

19
at Fort Riley, Texas. By the end of 1950, service schools of the
AFP had trained 1,420 officers and men in various courses.

National Defense Plan

On October 14, 1947, President Roxas, in consonance


with AFP’s defense plan, approved the building of an appropriate
and adequate defense scheme for the country. The planners of
the program gave impetus to the manpower requirements and the
resources for a sufficient military posture. The primary objective of
the plan was to “cover the broken pieces of our pre-war
organization and to utilize all that are still serviceable,” so as to lay
the foundation for the progressive development of the national
defense system.

The strategic and tactical requirement of national defense


was intensively studied. As a result, two different distinct plans
evolved which took into account several possibilities arising from
two possible extreme cases. One extreme was that there was
maximum assistance forthcoming from the U.S., while the other
extreme, equally convincing, was that there would be no
assistance at all.

With the communist “red tide wave” conspicuously


triumphant in various parts of the world, the strengthening of the
country’s defense organization became all the more imperative.
Accordingly, adequate provisions were made to thwart the
apparently aggressive designs of communism in the Philippines
as shown by the Huks and their supporters.

Because of social unrest, the presence of U.S. military


bases in the country and the open espousal by the government
and people to democratic ideals, the Philippines could not help but
be exposed to the dangers of communism.9 Maj Gen Rafael
Jalandoni, knowing fully well that the Military Assistance Pact did
not provide any definite active military collaboration between the
Philippines, thus leaving the country practically all alone to fend
for herself in case of foreign invasion, recommended to the Secre-

20
tary of National Defense that the Philippine Government press the
United States for a more definite military commitment.

On May 15, 1948, the Philippine-United States Mutual


Defense Board was created. It provided direct liaison and
consultation between the Philippines and U.S. members of the
board who diligently considered plans and procedures to ensure
effective cooperation for the defense of the two sovereign
countries.

Months after President Roxas approved the building of an


adequate defense structure for the country, he issued
Proclamation No. 69 which declared Corregidor and its adjacent
islands, including the waters that surrounded them, as military
reservations and a national defense zone. This was followed by
Floridablanca Air Base which was likewise declared an AFP
installation. The Philippine Ground Force occupied part of it, while
another portion was assigned to the 5th Fighter Group of the
Philippine Air Force. It was later named Basa Field to honor the
memory of Lt Cesar Basa who was killed in an aerial encounter
with the Japanese over Batangas Field during World War II. Later,
Ft. William McKinley (now Fort Bonifacio), one of the oldest pre-
war U.S. military reservations in the Philippines, was also turned
over to the Philippines.

The Plans and Operations Divisions, Headquarters,


National Defense Force, prepared a plan for the use of Fort
McKinley in line with the AFP’s efforts to progressively build up the
military establishment. According to this plan, the Fort was in-
tended to accommodate a number of AFP installations (like those
located in Camp Murphy) such as the Victoriano Luna General
Hospital, AFP Depot, Signal Service Batallion, Engineer Service
Batallion, Ordnance Center and the 1st BCT.

In the preparation of the National Defense System of the


country, military authorities were not entirely one-sided on their
approach. They took into serious consideration the role of the
civilian sector in the over all preparation for defense which was in
line with the concept that workers in the factories, farmers in the

21
st
Reservists report to the 1 mobilization assembly, 1949. (National
Library)

Graduation march of K-9 handlers and dogs, 1952. (National Library)

22
rice fields, women and children-all segments of the civilian
populace were equally in danger and could also be of great help
to the military in the National Defense Program. This plan was
geared towards the achievement of two objectives: (1) The
creation of an organization to take care of the welfare and
protection of the civilian populace in the event of war; and (2)
Mobilization of the entire resources of the country for ready
utilization in case of war. 10 In line with the concept, Maj. Gen.
Jalandoni, AFP Chief of Staff, recommended to the Secretary of
National Defense the creation of a Civilian Emergency Ad-
ministration and a War Resources Board.

As in any worthy endeavor, a plan, if it was to be effective,


had to be within the means of the country. A plan beyond the
capability of the AFP would be a lame duck. Thus, an effort to
assess the AFPs’ preparation for national defense evolved. One
yardstick to measure the AFP’s development was the AFP budget.

For fiscal year 1948, the AFP was appropriated P75,


889,010. Of this amount, P70,389,010 was allocated for main-
tenance and operations, while P5,500,000 was for military con-
struction projects. Approximately P42,497,845, or roughly 56% of
the entire programmed expenditures of the AFP, was spent for the
peace and order drive. What was left was the measly sum of P33,
491,164 for the other legitimate activities of the AFP, including the
logistical support for 6,563 officers and men attached to the PC.

At the time, the AFP budget was subjected to adverse


scrutiny by certain sectors claiming that the AFP outlay was
entirely out of proportion to the national income, therefore causing
a severe drain on the government’s fiscal position. However, when
a comparative analysis was made as to the per capita expendi-
tures of every Filipino citizen, compared to their counterparts in
the US and the USSR, it was found out that every Filipino spent
only P2.98 for national defense as compared to $57 and 218
rubles for every American and Russian citizen respectively.

Unequivocally, the critics failed to recognize the rationale


behind the Philippine budget for national defense. They did not

23
see the fact that, though independence was already granted by
the United States, the Philippine military establishment was still in
a badly shattered and emaciated state brought about by the war,
and which needed a thorough re-structuring and rehabilitation.

With the criticisms answered and the budget approved, the


AFP proceeded with the development of its plan for internal and
external security. New plans were prepared to meet certain
contingencies while old ones were revised to conform to the
demands of the times.

Prepared were two mobilization plans: one called for a


partial mobilization of a substantial portion of the first reserves that
included measures to bolster the AFP’s drive against the
dissidents while the other provided procedures for a general
mobilization of all reservists. The latter cited for possible courses
of action that the armed forces would take in view of conditions
obtaining in Southeast Asia, particularly in China, Formosa
(Taiwan) and Korea.

The years that followed until the creation of the Philippine


Army as a major service and its subsequent separation from
GHQ, AFP, in 1957 saw the National Defense structure of the
country progressively strengthened, modified and built up to cope
with the demands of the changing times.

As a result of Republic Act no. 997, the go-signal was


given for a general re-organization of the government. The AFP
for its part reconstituted the national defense establishment from
the highest echelons to the lowest operating units. Though the
overall organization of the AFP remained basically the same,
changes were effected on some units particularly that of the
Dental Service that was separated from the Medical Service and
constituted as a separate component pursuant to RA 1128.

In order to enhance better coordination and control of


military police activities in Manila and suburbs, the 303rd MP
Company was placed under the operational control of the AFP

24
Provost Marshal General, a special staff of the GHQ that was
created on February 14, 1953.

While still operating in a concurrent capacity with


Headquarters Philippine Army, GHQ, AFP, enunciated several
new military personnel policies in 1953. Some of the more
significant ones were the strict enforcement of the rotation of
reserve officers in order to keep their professional standards at a
high level. Other policies included the implementation of RA 165
regarding the integration of reserve officers, and a better career
management program for regular officers to attain professional
competence. Also of great importance were the commissioning of
outstanding non-commissioned officers under RA 718 and a better
staffing for the Corps of Professors in the Philippine Military
Academy, determination of Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)
of enlisted personnel of the PA and PC, creation of morale boards
in the headquarters of the major services and other big military
installations, and the selection of candidates to US service
schools.11

After consultation with the Joint US Military Advisory Group


(JUSMAG) to the Philippines, a table of organization and
equipment plan for the training of four readily mobile infantry
divisions was arrived at. This was done to bolster the AFPs
reserve build up during a four-year period under the US-RP
Mutual Defense Assistance Program.

Under this plan, deviations from the standard type divisions


of the US Army were made due to the following reasons:
availability of supplies and equipment, and the requirements
called for by local conditions. Sites for one division each in the
four military areas were selected, and the first of the four planned
divisions slated to commence training in 1956 was the 3rd Division.

To upgrade efficiency and effectiveness in technical


service support, GHQ, AFP activated a Signal Repair Company,
the Dental Service Center, the 1st Neuro-Psychiatric Detachment,
and a Quartermaster Car Company. Expanded to battalion size
was the 1st Engineer Forestry Company, while the Economic

25
Development Corps (EDCOR) was transferred to the Department
of National Defense. Likewise, transferred to the Military Area
were twenty military intelligence teams.

In accordance with the Mutual Defense Assistance


Program, GHQ also activated the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th Infantry
Divisions, at the same time directing all military area commanders
to reconstitute all units (except PC) under their command into
these divisions with the Engineer Combat Battalion of the 1st
Engineer Combat Group as engineer units for these divisions.

With these, the AFP had more or less completed its


national defense structure. After almost two decades of
painstaking planning and research, meeting with opposition from
certain sectors and continuous modification of certain defense
plan to meet specific contingencies, the country had finally arrived
at a viable defense system that was considered adequate in
meeting ant threat against the state.

However, there still remained a stone left unturned in the


AFP’s organizational framework. HPA had served concurrently as
GHQ, AFP thereby eliciting various problems. It took a little more
time before this problem was resolved.

Reorganized Philippine Army

The landing of American forces in Leyte in 1944 brought to


fruition the long-cherished desire of Gen. MacArthur to return to
the Philippines and avenge the humiliating reverses suffered in
the early days of World War II in the Pacific. The stars and stripes
were hoisted over the Philippine soil since the time the Japanese
took over, symbolizing the fulfillment of America’s pledge to return.

Two years later, another American promise was fulfilled.


Independence for the Philippines was granted on July 4, 1946. For
the first time since the short-lived Republic of 1898, the Philippine
flag flew alone over the Philippines. Symbolic of valor, purity and
peace to the Filipinos, the flag had been upheld by the Filipino
people since it was first hoisted in 1898. Stout-hearted brown men

26
had carried it fighting side by side with the Americans in the
battlefields of Bataan and Corregidor.
.
President Roxas, realizing the tremendous task that lay
ahead of the independent Philippines said:

“Let’s build in our land a monument to freedom and


justice, a beacon to all mankind.”

Four days prior to the declaration of Philippine


independence, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which had
survived through the dark days of war, were given with light and
life. Effective midnight, June 30, 1946, the organized military
forces of the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines
were officially released from the service of the Armed Forces of
the United States.

This edict by the highest official of the United States of


America should not and must not be under emphasized. After five
suspenseful days, liberation for the Philippine Army came. This
gave back not only the long-lost autonomy and sovereignty to our
armed forces, but most of all, it brought back the Army’s lost
identity.

Henceforth, the formulation of military policy and strategy


governing the armed forces now belonged to the Republic of the
Philippines while that of tactical organization, employment,
logistical support, including military education and training, were
under the wings of GHQ, AFP.

On December 23, 1950, President Quirino issued


Executive Order No. 389 which provided for the reorganization of
the armed forces. The order re-designated Headquarters, AFP, as
General Headquarters, AFP and activated its four major services -
the Philippine Army, Philippine Constabulary, Philippine Air Force
and Philippine Navy. The Philippine Ground Force (formerly the
Military Training Command) became the Philippine Army Training
Command (PATC) with headquarters at Fort McKinley.

27
Pursuant to this order, the Philippine Army was activated
and constituted as a major service effective January 1, 1951, with
a three-fold mission:

1. To organize, train and equip Army forces for the conduct


of prompt and sustained combat operations on land specifically to
defeat enemy land forces and seize, occupy and defend land
areas.
2. To develop in coordination with the other major services
tactics, techniques and equipment of interest to the Army for field
operations.
3. To train, organize and equip all Army reserve units and
to perform such other functions as the President may direct.

In the accomplishment of the Army’s missions during that


period, it was deemed necessary to effect certain changes in the
organizational set-up of the Army. The changes effected generally
encompass personnel, operations and logistical aspects.

The country’s manpower reserves were at that time


previously neglected, and for this reason the Reserve Affairs
Division was activated. Other organizational changes included the
deactivation of the Airborne Battalion and the Field Artillery
Batteries due to budgetary limitations. Also, seven ROTC units
were deactivated. However, the PC zones in the Visayas and
Mindanao were detached from direct control of Headquarters
Philippine Constabulary and reverted back to the III and IV Military
Areas, respectively.

In order to increase the Army’s effectivity in its operations


units with special capabilities were organized and employed to
meet the peculiar characteristics of certain combat campaigns.
One such unit was the Scout Dog Teams which aided troops in
tracking down fleeing enemies proving particularly useful in the 1st
Military Area.

Notwithstanding the army’s campaign against dissidents, it


did not limit its overall pacification campaigns internally. The
incursion of the communist North Korea into the democratic South

28
Korea necessitated the incorporation of five Philippine Army
Battalion Combat Teams (BCTs) into an organized expeditionary
force, the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTFOK).
Though the group caught only the tail end of hostilities in that
theatre, they nevertheless conducted themselves creditably by
participating in two campaigns where they elicited the admiration
of other nations in that United Nations limited policy action.

For the duration of the Korean War, the Philippines,


through the 10th, 20th, 19th, 14th and 2nd BCTs (in order of
deployment), contributed a total of 152 officers and 6,898 enlisted
men to the United Nations Command in Korea. Out of this
number, 56 men were killed in action, and 37 wounded in one
mission. The 2nd BCT, the last of the PEFTOK contingent to arrive
in Korea, returned to the Philippines on May 13, 1955, thus ending
Philippine army operations on Korean soil. PEFTOK was then
reduced from a battalion to company strength and was sub-
sequently in deactivated under RA 997.12

Although the plan to separate HPA from GHQ did not


materialize during Fiscal Year 1955-56, GHQ was relieved of
some HPA functions, which were delegated to subordinate
headquarters. This arrangement allowed GHQ to concentrate on
higher level functions and permitted the reduction of GHQ
strength.

The organization of the 3rd Infantry Division effected a


radical change in the system of training reservists. This came
about by providing a regular cadre to train replacements from the
same geographical area as one unit that would remain intact as a
reserve unit even after active service.

In the training of regular units, the AFP training system


continued its training operation in order to achieve the AFP
objectives of training adequate members of the reserve and active
forces. The training program, however, was interrupted when AFP
service schools were closed effective May 7, 1956, due to the
critical shift of efforts as a result of the situation in the 2nd Military
Area during the last quarter of the year. The AFP service schools

29
conducted courses designed to satisfy essential current needs in
technical and tactical skills. Training of officers in the military
schools, however, continued along essential associate, advanced
and specialized courses.

Reorganization of Headquarters Philippine Army

The designation of General Headquarters, AFP, con-


currently as Headquarters Philippine Army, was terminated
effective July 1, 1957. The separation of the two headquarters
restored to the army its former autonomy and at the same time,
corrected a very confusing situation existing in the armed forces.

With the creation of Headquarters Philippine Army as a


separate entity, a more equitable treatment of all major services
could now be effected. Inter-service wrangling and bickering as
well as petty jealousies especially in the allocation of budgetary
outlays could be reduced to the minimum, if not entirely
eliminated. It had always been public knowledge that prior to the
separation of the two headquarters, serious inter-service dif-
ferences rankled in the armed forces. These disparities could be
traced to the former situation where GHQ and the AFP Chief of
Staff administered the affairs of both the Armed Forces as a whole
and the Philippine Army as a major command.

Such being the state of affairs in our armed forces, it was


inevitable that the other major services - the Philippine Consta-
bulary, the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force - would
think that the GHQ, AFP existed only for the Philippine Army.

30
Inspection of a quarter, 1957. (National Library)

Night field training exercise, Laguna, 1957. (National Library)

31
Chapter II

THE ANTI-DISSIDENT CAMPAIGN

Background

The formal establishment of the Partido Komunista ng


Pilipinas (PKP) in 1930 ushered in an era of turbulence and strife.
The forces of this new political group threatened the internal
security and stability of the nation. In appreciation of this newly-
spawned danger to public order, the Philippine Army, in
collaboration with the other major services of the AFP, rose to the
occasion by pitting its forces against those of the Communist
Party of the Philippines.

Origin of the Dissident Problem

From a historical perspective, the dissident problem was


the outgrowth of economic problems, principally those agrarian in
nature. In pre-Spanish times, agrarian unrest was practically
unknown in the Philippines. But with the advent of the Spanish
colonial era, the problem began to take shape.

The encomienda system that the Spaniards introduced


had the most pervasive negative influence on the Filipinos. In due
time, it aroused the ire and hatred of Filipinos towards the
Spaniards. The encomenderos exceeded their authority of
taxation which was part of the special favors granted them by the
Spanish crown. Those not capable of paying the required taxes
were either tortured or imprisoned.

The abuses of the encomenderos were reported to the


Spanish King by some church dignitaries. Among these church
dignitaries were Domingo de Salazar, first Bishop of Manila, and
Martin de Rada, Superior of the Agustinian order in the
Philippines. As a result, the encomienda system was abolished in
the later part of the 17th century. However, most of the lands
possessed by Spanish citizens at the time were taken over by
religious corporations. The abuses persisted and evolved into

32
more serious landlord-tenant problems. What followed was a
series of peasant revolts. However, the encomienda system
generated one beneficial effect for it served as the basis for the
establishment of provinces in the 18th century.

During the American regime, the same social ills that were
the hallmarks of the Spanish regime continued to plague
Philippine society. Ignorance, poverty, and religious fanaticism still
held sway. Those were the fertile grounds upon which dissidence
thrived.

Introduction of Communism in the Philippines

In 1928, a conference sponsored by the Pan-Pacific Trade


Union was attended by delegates from the Philippine Labor
Congress headed by Crisanto Evangelista. Upon their return, they
founded the Labor Party. The same labor union affiliated itself with
the Red International Organization of Labor Unions. However, a
split among labor leaders developed. Thus, Evangelista founded
the Katipunan Ng Mga Anak Pawis Ng Pilipinas (Congress of the
Philippine Working Men) or KAP with Antonio Oro as Chairman.
Evangelista became its executive secretary.

On November 7, 1930, the thirteenth anniversary of the


proletarian revolution in Russia, the PKP or Communist Party of
the Philippines (CPP) was proclaimed at Plaza Moriones in
Tondo, heartland of Manila’s working class. After its formal
organization at the Templo del Trabajo on August 26, of the same
year, Evangelista became its secretary general.

The PKP, as embodied in its constitution, had the following


objectives:

“To overthrow American imperialism and establish


an independent Philippine government patterned after the
Russian system; to improve the living and working
conditions of the Filipino proletariat; to unite with other
revolutionary movements all over the world.”

33
Barely two years of its existence, was the CPP outlawed.
Judge Mariano Albert of the Manila CFI ruled that the PKP and the
KAP were illegal associations. The judge also convicted
Evangelista and nineteen others for being the organizers of an
illegitimate organization. They were meted out sentences ranging
from banishment and imprisonment to fines. This case was filed
by Manila police authorities after they had arrested Evangelista
and the others during the annual convention of the KAP held at
the El Retono Building on May 31, 1931.

Consequently, the PKP went underground. Later, it


merged with the Socialist Party of the Philippines under Pedro
Abad Santos. These two merged groups retained the PKP’s
official designation with the phrase “affiliated to the Communist
Internationale” underneath its seal. On November 7, 1938, the
revitalized party’s existence was proclaimed at the Manila Grand
Opera House, the same venue where the fusion of the PKP and
CPP was consummated during the PKP’s Third National
Convention. Evangelista was chosen national chairman; Abad
Santos, vice chairman; and Guillermo Capadocia, secretary
general.

Hukbalahap Movement

Aware that war is imminent, the CPP organized the


National Anti-Fascist United Front resistance group in October
1941. Its leaders were Evangelista, Mariano Balgos, Capadocia,
Abad Santos, Dr. Vicente Lava, Luis Taruc, and Mateo del
Castillo. A coordinating center was established in San Fernando,
Pampanga with Abad Santos as chairman.

At the outbreak of World War II in 1941, the leaders of the


party renamed their guerilla organization “Hukbo ng Bayan Laban
sa Hapon” (HUKBALAHAP), or the People’s Anti-Japanese Army.
This guerilla outfit was formally organized on March 29, 1942
during a conference convoked by Luis Taruc, Chairman of the
Military Committee, at Batibat, Conception, Tarlac. Taruc was
chosen Chief, and Jose de Leon, as First Deputy Commander.

34
An appraisal of the Huk-inspired insurrection revealed that
“the war provided the Communist-led Huks with the opportunity to
move out of the stage of infiltration and maneuvering into a period
of direct armed revolutionary activity.1 The old issue of agrarian
reform and a strong plea for popular support on the basis of
patriotic action came in handy. It vowed to carry on the resistance
movement against the Japanese Imperial Forces and, at the same
time, to continue to seek social and economic reforms.

The HUKBALAHAP was initially organized into small


tactical units called squadrons. Each squadron was composed of
approximately one hundred men. The squadron was sub-divided
into platoons and squads. Two squadrons comprised a battalion
and two battalions, a regiment. On this basis, the outfit was
“organized like a regular army.”2

As an armed force, the HUKBALAHAP launched armed


attacks on vital Japanese garrisons, shipments and convoys. At
the same time, it conducted a punitive campaign against
landowners and collaborators. The Japanese Imperial Forces, on
the other hand, intensified their operations against all guerilla
units. In January 1942, the dreaded Japanese Kempetai (Military
Police) made raids in Manila. This brought about the capture of
Abad Santos, Evangelista and Capadocia. Because of the incident
the PKP suffered a serious blow in its war efforts. Only Capadocia
was released on a mission to persuade his colleagues to
capitulate to the Japanese. However, he did not return to his
captors.

Shortly after the landing of American liberation forces in


Central Luzon, higher authorities decided to induct the
HUKBALAHAP into the Philippine Army to give it equal footing
with the other guerilla units. However, it refused to be inducted
unless it was accepted as a distinct unit. Only the socialist
Bernardo Poblete agreed to have his unit, the Banal regiment,
inducted without condition.

35
The Huks after the War

After the war, the Huks, numbering some 10,000 men,


were concentrated mostly in the areas north and south of Manila.
This time, they were bent on attaining their goals through
legitimate means. However, during the 1964 election, Luis Taruc
and Jesus Lava, among others, were unseated from Congress on
the grounds that their elections were attended with anomalies and
fraud. The charges were proven true in court notwithstanding the
denials of Taruc and his men. Taruc, therefore, rejoined the old
Huk units in the field.

Upon his assumption of the presidency on May 28, 1946,


Manuel Roxas promised to “restore peace and order within sixty
days.” Toward that end, he launched an intensive pacification
campaign to win the dissidents back into the fold of the law. He
employed the services of surrendered Huk leaders to convince
their former men to surrender peacefully. He also sought congres-
sional amendment of Section 2692 of the Revised Administrative
Code giving stiffer penalties to unauthorized holders of firearms.
This law became Republic Act Number 4 that was approved on
July 19, 1946. The deadline for the peaceful surrender of firearms
was set as August 31, 1946.

Roxas also offered the following incentives to Huk sur-


renderees: the subdivision of large agricultural estates, re-
settlement of undeveloped areas, increased crop-sharing for
tenants and the introduction of modern farming. At the same time,
he created an Agrarian Commission to investigate the agrarian
situation in the country in Central Luzon, which was the bedrock of
the “Huk Problem”. Among its provisions were the following:3

1. The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms to be


recognized by the government, with all arms registered.
2. All armed forces, except the regular police, to be
disbanded.
3. Barrio guards to be established by the people
themselves pending complete restoration of peace and order.

36
4. All charges against the Huks and other guerillas for anti-
Japanese activities to be dropped.
5. Remove anti-peasant officials and appoint officials
acceptable to the peasants.
6. Seat the Democratic Alliance congressmen.
7. Protect peasants from arrest, torture and imprisonment.

To the Chief Executive, these demands were not only


unacceptable to the government; these were also indications that
the Huks did not want to live in peace with the government. This
was borne out by the upsurge of violence fomented by the
dissidents.

Alexander Viernes, alias Stalin, led a group of 200 Huks


who raided Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, in June 1946. After
robbing the residents, they held a general meeting in the town
plaza and the Communist flag was hoisted to the top of the
municipal flag pole. The Huks urged and intimidated the captive
populace to support the dissident army. Majayjay in Laguna was
the second town to be raided on August 6. Salvador Nolasco was
the leader of the dissident group responsible for looting the
municipal building of firearms, office equipment and other valuable
supplies.

On August 24, Juan Feleo, a ranking Communist leader


defected to work with the government and was assigned to
conduct a pacification campaign in Nueva Ecija. At a later date, he
disappeared and was presumed to have been killed by his
snatchers.

On August 29, two days before the deadline for the


voluntary surrender of firearms, it was evident that the govern-
ment’s pacification campaign had failed. In the wake of the Feleo
incident, Taruc wrote to President Roxas denouncing the MPC
and urging him to oust Governor David of Pampanga from his
office, including several MPC officers. Likewise, Taruc told the
President to act like a real “liberator and a true Filipino” in order to
merit the Huk’s cooperation. “Be an imperialist fascist agent and
you will find that there are enough Filipinos who have learned a lot

37
in the last war and who will not give up in peace and social gains
acquired during the war,” wrote Taruc.

This open display of defiance prompted President Roxas to


enunciate his “mailed fist” policy against the Huks. On September
1, 1946, the President ordered the 10,000-man MPC to disarm the
dissidents as well as the civilian guards. Towards this end, MPC
units fanned out to round up former Huks. Hostile barrios were
searched to flush them out.

Consequently, the CPP’s top leadership convoked a secret


conference at Mandili, Candaba, and Pampanga in mid-
September 1946 to map out the course of action in neutralizing
the government’s punitive campaign. During that historic occasion,
Taruc, Jesus and Jose Lava stood for the resumption of guerilla
warfare. They also urged the expansion of the CPP by shifting its
cadres to other areas. To accomplish this, several top party
leaders were sent to other provinces to recruit additional
members. Silvestre Liwanag, alias Linda Bie, was assigned in
Bataan and Zambales, and Tomas Galma, in cooperation with
Pedro Villegas, were sent to operate in the province of Southern
Luzon. The CPP’s expansion plans also called for the sending of
recruiters to the Visayas.

But a storm within the party’s hierarchy was brewing where


a cleavage was soon developed. Taruc’s plans met opposition
from the majority members of the Politburo. Pedro Castro,
secretary general, disagreed with the views of Taruc. He believed
that the situation did not warrant armed struggle. He preferred the
“legal or parliamentary struggle” as a better alternative. In the end,
these opposing views resulted not only in the ouster of Castro
from his post, but also brought to the fore the CPP’s inherent
weaknesses.

The MPC’s intense anti-dissident operations dented the


much-vaunted Huk resistance. The Huks sustained heavy losses
that brought widespread demoralization in their ranks. As a result,
the Huks retreated and took cover to dissuade government troops
from pursuing the punitive drive against them. The encounters that

38
took place between the government forces and the Huks during
that period were described in a newspaper account:

“Blood and tears flowed freely in Central Luzon as


determined government forces engaged the HUKBALA-
HAP in a running battle in swamps, rugged terrain and
muddy rice fields. Equipped with high-caliber machine
guns and heavy mortars, the Army’s Military Police dug
them out of their entrenchments with unrelenting fire.”

During the lull, President Roxas was convinced that he had


successfully licked the peace and order problem. In fact, he cited
this as the foremost achievement of his administration when he
addressed a joint session of the Congress of the Philippines in
January 1947.

This was, however, far from reality. The dissidents were


just bidding their time to strike back at the government forces. In
the meantime, an American correspondent of the Associated
Press had succeeded in getting a secret interview with Huk
leaders in the field. On February 7, 1947, the results of the secret
meeting were bannered by Philippine national newspapers.
Played up were the dissidents five-point demands, ranging from
immediate enforcement of the Bill of Rights to the implementation
of Roxas own land reform program.

The printing of the demands in newspapers jolted the


president. It also alerted the military to prepare for tactical action.
Government troops had completed plans to attack the mountain
redoubt of Taruc and other key Huk leaders in Mt. Arayat during
the fifth organization day celebration of the HUKBALAHAP.
Thrown around the objective were twenty MPC companies. This
forced the Huks to move further atop Mt. Arayat. Because of gaps
in the cordon, Taruc and his top aides escaped from the area on
March 28, 1947. The failure of the MPC to bag Taruc brought forth
a torrent of adverse publicity for the military.

A wave of violent reactions to the President’s “mailed fist”


policy followed. Leading political figures and civic-minded citizens

39
commented that this line of action was doing more harm than
good to the country. They said the grant of a general amnesty to
the Huks would be much more effective. But the President was
not disposed to take this course of action as the dissidents had
spurned all his previous overtures for peace.

Therefore, the “mailed fist” policy continued. It received an


added boost on March 6, 1948 when the President, through an
Executive Order, outlawed the HUKBALAHAP headed by Taruc
and the Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magsasaka (PKM) under
Mateo Del Castillo. Through this action, “the floodgate leading to
the final solution of the Huk problem had been slammed forever.

General Amnesty Proclamation

A slackening of the government’s all-out force policy came


about when President Elpidio Quirino assumed the presidency
following the untimely death of President Roxas at Clark Air Base
on April 15, 1948. The new chief executive enunciated a policy of
attraction designed to deal with the dissidents more effectively.
The policy was meant to persuade the Huks to give up their
hopeless struggle and return to a peaceful life.

On January 1, 1948 supervision of the MPC, which was in


the forefront of the punitive drive, was transferred to the
Department of the Interior. During the period, the Army of the
Philippines was designated the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Four military areas were created in May of the same year to
systematize the campaign by breaking the backbone of the
dissident movement. Likewise, Maj Gen Rafael Jalandoni, AFP
Chief of Staff, recommended the activation of battalion combat
teams that would conduct anti-dissident operations. Gradual
activation and organization of these units became in effect.

A week after his assumption of the presidency, Quirino


received Taruc’s letter offering his cooperation regarding the
solution of the peace and order problem. At the same time,
Secretary of the Interior Jose Zulueta recommended to President
Quirino the release from protective custody of Huks and members

40
of the PKM who had no criminal charges filed against them.
Furthermore, Zulueta also urged the President to implement
socio-economic measures and to conduct psychological warfare
operations designed to wean the dissidents away from their deep
rooted resentment towards the government. President Quirino,
however, did not act on these recommendations. Instead, he
inspected the Huk-infested provinces in Central Luzon to per-
sonally assess the situation.

On his return to Malacanang Palace, President Quirino


formed a two-man team composed of his younger brother, former
judge Antonio Quirino and a newspaperman working for a Manila
daily newspaper, specifically to contact Taruc and thresh out with
him the conditions leading to the termination of hostilities. After the
meeting between the presidential emissaries and Taruc in an
undisclosed place in Pampanga, Judge Quirino and the journalist
returned to Manila with the Huk Supremo’s letter imposing three
conditions to be incorporated into the amnesty proclamation, all of
which would favor the Huks.

Immediately, President Quirino took steps to prepare an


initial draft of the amnesty proclamation. A copy was sent to Taruc
for his study. Several days later, Judge Quirino received another
letter from the Huk Supremo containing seven additional
conditions. Never willing to renege on his stand, President Quirino
nevertheless included these conditions in the general amnesty
proclamation. In truth, however, he believed that Taruc’s demands
were contrary to the government’s official position. On the other
hand, he thought the kinks could be ironed out later. His desire to
end the Huk problem at the earliest possible time prompted him to
act with dispatch.

On June 21, 1948, a Piper Cub plane with Taruc on board


took off in Pampanga. That same afternoon, President Quirino
and Taruc had a historic meeting at Malacanang. The Huk
Supremo was accorded a hero’s welcome; his fame as an arch
enemy of the state was forgotten.

After the momentous event, the Chief Executive sent to

41
Congress a copy of the draft of the amnesty proclamation. Several
congressmen filed concurring resolutions. In the Philippine
Senate, Senators Carlos P. Garcia and Lorenzo Tañada had in-
troduced amendments defining the scope and limits of the
proposed amnesty. Finally, on June 25, 1948, the Philippine
congress approved the proclamation draft. Among other things, it
provided that it would be deemed “necessary, just and wise for the
government to forgive, and forego the prosecution of crimes of
rebellion, sedition, illegal association and assault upon resistance,
and disobedience to persons in authority which said dissidents
have committed” prior to the approval of the proclamation.4

Meanwhile, Congressman Jose B. Laurel Jr. of Batangas


authored a resolution which enabled Luis M. Taruc to regain his
seat as congressman of Pampanga’s second district. In his first
speech before his peers, Taruc averred that his colleagues were
driven to dissidents by “provocation and ruthless treatment”.
Subsequently, he collected his back-pay for two years.

Because the amnesty was not discussed by members of


the CPP’s Central Committee during their conference on May 11,
1948, there was no uniformity in its implementation. Members of
Huk field units showed willingness to surrender immediately;
others did not react unless with expressed authority from their
leaders. Those in Bulacan withheld action pending the govern-
ment’s implementation of the terms and conditions set forth in the
proclamation.

Taruc, on the other hand, circulated freely in a gesture to


implement his part of the bargain. He appeared in public rallies
where he delivered persuasive speeches. For his part, President
Quirino directed the immediate disarming of the civilian guards
and offered additional incentives like the registration of Huks
without their firearms, promises of jobs and the grant of loans.
Lastly, he extended the grace period of the amnesty to August 15.

Then on August 29, Taruc’s brief sojourn on the road to


peace came to an end. On this day, he failed to show up at a
democratic peace rally in Quiapo, Manila, where he was supposed

42
to be the keynote speaker. Taruc’s failure stemmed from one
primary reason: he had not convinced his colleagues to give up
dissidence as shown by the fact that only about 100 of them had
surrendered to authorities with their firearms at the end of the
grace period. This led him to give up his congressional seat in
favor of his hunted life once more.

President Quirino’s haste in granting the Huks a general


amnesty was regrettable. With the disappearance of Taruc from
the national scene, the Chief Executive ordered the resumption of
the “all-out war” policy against the Huks. They had not only
pushed back the government’s social amelioration program, but
also the country’s economic development plans particularly the
rural areas of Central Luzon.

Huk Depredations

A spate of MPC armed clashes occurred in 1949. By this


time, combined CPP-Huk membership had swelled to 12,800
men, of which 8,500 were armed. They also enjoyed the support
of 54,200 members of other mass organizations. Members of
military committees were raiding towns and barrios of what they
considered puppets, collaborators and traitors. Peasants had to
pay the Huks “protection” money in order to be left free from
molestation and even pre-war town policemen who decided to
stick to their posts during the Japanese occupation were marked
for liquidation.5 In that same year, the Huks changed their name
from “Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon” into “Hukbong
Mapagpalaya ng Bayan” (HMB) or “People’s Liberation Army.”

Then on April 28, 1949, the nation was jolted into shock
and disbelief. A 200-man dissident band under Alexander Viernes
ambushed in Nueva Ecija, the party of Mrs. Aurora Quezon and
her entourage while on the way to Baler, Quezon. Aside from Mrs.
Quezon, her daughter, Baby, son-in-law Felipe Buencamino III,
Quezon City Mayor Ponciano Bernardo, and eight others were
also killed. This heinous crime spurred a national condemnation of
the dissidents. More outrageous acts followed. Several towns in

43
the provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Batangas, Laguna, and Nueva
Ecija were raided and pillaged.

Towards the end of 1949, more battalion combat teams


were activated to form part of the striking forces of the Philippine
Army, and then known as the Philippine Ground Force. These
were the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th BCTs. The 1st, 2nd and 10th
BCTs and the 1st Field Artillery Battalion had been organized
earlier. All these elements, except the 9th BCT, were thrown into
the anti-dissident campaign.

From April 1 to June 29, 1950, the BCTs recorded 134


encounters, resulting to the killing of 732 Huks, the capture of 74
and the surrender of 43 other Huks. About 1,217 assorted fire-
arms were collected, 316 of which were captured and 901 were
surrendered. Before the BCTs were thrown into action, the MPC,
which had previously been battling the Huks, had an equally
enviable combat record.

Several factors contributed to the successful anti-dissident


operation. First, the BCTs had proven their efficiency and mettle
as combat units, Second, the effective Military Intelligence Service
(MIS) helped in pinpointing dissident concentrations. Third, the
cooperation of public officials and civic-spirited citizens arose from
the congenial relationship between the military and the civilian
populace. In addition, Philippine Army Air Corps and Philippine
Naval Patrol vessels provided mobility and support to the
operating units.

Meanwhile, on August 26, 1950, at 10:00 P.M. some 200


dissidents under Silvestre Liwanag, alias Linda Bie, attacked
Camp Makabulos in Tarlac, Tarlac from Barrio Armenia. Patients
of the 11th Army Station Hospital were massacred while nurses
were raped and also killed. Slaughtered were 25 officers and men,
and six civilians. Five others were wounded. Then they looted
houses and buildings. This attack was supposedly in celebration
of the “Cry of Balintawak” of 1896. The enemy sustained four
killed, four wounded and 23 captured.

44
Another group of 300 Huks under Pedro Caguin, alias
Commander Samonte, successfully staged a dawn raid at Sta
Cruz, Laguna. They divested the provincial coffers of P86, 806.00
in cash. They also looted the town’s commercial section, fleeing
with goods valued at approximately P75,000. After killing the jail
warden and kidnapping several guards, they released twenty
prisoners. Before their flight, they burned many houses and
destroyed a bridge, and killed three of the PC troops sent there to
resist the marauders. The dissidents lost fifteen men.

These successful Huk depredations began to affect the


morale of the civilian population. They had their doubts as to the
capability of the government to suppress lawlessness. Worried
about their safety, the rich and landed gentry made an exodus to
Manila and other urban centers. The rural people, on the other
hand, sought refuge in crowded towns.

The Armed Forces assumed the responsibility to win back


the support and confidence of the people to the government. It
strengthened its all-out military operations against the Huks. It
assigned specific sectors of operations to all units and garrisoned
remote areas to protect the civilian populace from Huk depre-
dations.6

Having realized their inferiority in men and materiel, the


Huks avoided engagements with government troops for some
time. For a while, all remained quiet. However, this deceptive lull
did not last long.

CPP Machinery Streamlined

At the start of 1950, the CPP had decreed the existence of


a revolutionary situation in the Philippines. In the line with this, it
perfected plans to activate new units, recognize old ones, expand
to other areas, and recruit additional members. It also streamlined
the party’s machinery by establishing two sets of politburo. Jose
Lava headed the Politburo-out, while Federico Bautista was
named acting chairman of the National Military Committee of the
Politburo-in. Taruc was made chairman of the National Military

45
Department of the Politburo. These preparations were dovetailed
for the planned seizure of stat power by May 1952.

A military committee was created on August 11, 1950, to


supervise field units. This eighteen-member committee exercised
command functions over the HMB and operated under the CPP
Secretariat. Moreover, it was planned to convert the HMB into a
regular army. Towards this end, recruitment goals were
established with targets to be attained by July 1951. The original
membership of the HMB was expected to reach peak strength of
172,000 at the end of the period compared to 10,800 at the
beginning of the plan. Furthermore, it was planned to build a mass
base of 2,430,000 members.

Four new regional commands were created in addition to


the seven existing. These eleven Regional Commands were
distributed as follows:

Regional Command No.1 Nueva Ecija and Eastern


Pangasinan
Regional Command No.2 Pampanga,Tarlac, Zambales
Western Pangasinan and
Northern Bulacan
Regional Command No.3 Bulacan (this was later re-
designated the Special
Peasant Committee).
Regional Command No.4 Rizal, Eastern Batangas,
Northern Quezon & Southern
Bulacan
Regional Command No.5 Camarines Norte, Camarines
Sur, Albay & Sorsogon
Regional Command No.6 Panay Island, Negros, Cebu,
Samar, Leyte, Bohol and
Palawan
Regional Command No.7 Mindanao
Regional Command No.8 Ilocos Provinces to include
Kalinga and Mt. Province
Regional Command No. 9 Nueva Viscaya, Isabela &
Cagayan to include Ifugao &

46
Apayao, Mt. Province
Regional Command No. 10 Eastern Batangas, Western
Laguna & Southern Quezon
City Command Manila, Malabon, Caloocan,
Navotas, San Francisco del
Monte, Guadalupe, Pasay,
Pasig, Baclaran, Parañaque,
Muntinlupa & Alabang

In addition, two new divisions were activated. These were


the Special Warfare and Technological Division headed by Angel
Baking and Jose Lava, respectively. The manufacturer of bombs,
booby traps, land mines and other explosive devices was their
primary responsibility.

Taruc formulated a master plan of action to carry out the


CPP’s armed struggle which was to be accomplished in two
phases. The first phase, covering the period from October 1950 to
November 1951, was to be used to thoroughly prepare the regular
Huk army. The second and final phase, to be carried out between
November 1951 and May 1952, called for the launching of an all-
out offensive against government forces.

Some thirty five divisions with an aggregate strength of


116, 480 men would be employed in the following areas: Cagayan
Valley - four divisions; Ilocos provinces and Mountain province -
three; Pampanga, North Quezon and Neva Ecija - three;
Zambales, Bataan and Tarlac - four; Rizal, Manila, Central
Quezon and Bulacan - five; Bicolandia, Samar, Leyte and
Masbate - three; the other Visayan provinces and Mindanao -
three.

A general headquarters was also established in the


Bulacan-Rizal-Manila-Quezon area. Its general staff was
constituted as follows:

Jesus Lava Chief of Staff


Luis Taruc Deputy Chief of Staff
Castro Alejandro Chief, War Plans Division

47
Jose de Leon Chief, Plans and Training Division
Macario Razon Chief, Personnel & Administrative
Division
Ponciano Lina Chief, Finance and Supply Division

The HMB’s pinned their hopes of successfully over-


throwing the government through the strict implementation of their
grandiose plans. Their optimism was not all baseless. They had a
regular army to bear the brunt of their anti-government operations,
a huge mass base, and the support of the 100,000-man Congress
of Labor organizations, all of which would be sufficient to tip the
scale in their favor. On hand to assist them were ranking
communist leaders who had succeeded in infiltrating various
branches of the government, like Angel Baking, who was a
councilor in the city of Manila and several agents who were
employed in PC headquarters.

Meanwhile, on December 23, 1950, President Quirino


ordered the reorganization of the AFP. At the same time, he
activated the AFP’s four major services as separate services
namely: the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Navy (PN), Philippine
Constabulary (PC) and Philippine Air Force (PAF).7 The re-
organization was designed primarily to attain a more effective
prosecution of the anti-dissident campaign. To bolster the morale
of the troops, Quirino authorized the grant of an additional
subsistence allowance of P2.50 a day to all who were involved in
the punitive campaigns.

Major Army Operations

After his assumption of office as Secretary of National


Defense on September 1, 1950, Ramon Magsaysay instituted a
series of reforms in the entire military establishment. Firstly, he
organized the General Staff and the various field commands then
existing. Secondly, he ordered the preparation of a master
offensive plan designed to break the back of the HMB resistance.
At the same time, he directed the MIS to step up its operations.

48
Magsaysay examined the Huk problem from two different
approaches: a policy of “all-out friendship” towards the civilians,
and “all-out force” not only against the Huks but also against other
lawless elements. He said: “With my left hand, I am offering to all
dissidents the road to peace, happy homes, and economic
security; but with my right, I shall crush all those who resist and
seek to destroy our democratic government.”

Taking this policy announcement as a cue, the PA


launched several major operations to deliver a crushing blow to
the dissidents. To break the expansion and recruitment program
of the dissidents, four Military Areas were activated in compliance
with General Order 151. After their activation, the military
launched major operations to break the back of the Huk rebellion.

The first major operation, code-named “Marblehead”, was


launched on the first day of July, 1951 in Laguna. It was
spearheaded by the II Military Area. About 109 makeshift huts,
where the so-called Stalin University was established, were
destroyed. The operation also claimed the lives of seven HMBs
with 18 others captured. About a month later, Operation “Omaha”
was launched. Its primary objective was the destruction of the Huk
Regional Command No. 2 with its headquarters near Clark Air
Base, to include the destruction of its ordinance depot, barracks
and productions bases. Moreover, 24 HMB’s were reported killed
and 193 barracks, including the supply depot and 37 production
bases were destroyed and the government troopers also captured
many vital documents.8
On the other hand, troops from the 17 PA Companies and
the Marine Company were thrown in Operation “Smile” on
September 14, 1951. This was a probing mission in Longos,
Laguna where the general Headquarters of the HMB was
reportedly established. At the termination of the Operation
“Smile,” 21 Huks were killed while the three others were captured.
Destroyed were 203 huts and eighteen production bases.

Another significant operation during the period was


Operation “Cadena de Amor,” which was launched by the 1st
Military Area (I MA). About 2,000 officers and men coming from

49
the 5th and 12th BCT’s 1st Field Artillery and 1st Airborne Battalion,
Scout Ranger teams and one platoon from the Nueva Ecija PA
command made up the striking forces. Seven HMB members
were killed, four wounded and 64 others surrendered, barely a
month after the operation was started.

The 15th BCT and attached units comprising the Panay


Task Force was deployed in Visayas under the 3rd MA to initiate
Operation “Knockout.” With then Colonel Alfredo M. Santos at the
helm of the operation, the Panay Task Force killed and captured
several HMB’s, among them Guillermo Capadocia, commanding
officer of Regional Command No. 6 in the Visayas.

On September 24, eighteen days after the onset of the


operation, command troops of the Panay Task Force composed of
two platoons of the 15th BCT, one platoon of the Field Artillery
battery, six Ranger Teams and the Civilian Command Unit (CCU)
of Pedro Valentin attacked and surprised Capadocia in his
hideout. Caught unaware in his mountain redoubt in Sitio Buboy,
San Remegio, Antique, Capadocia fled. However, after a one-hour
chase, Capadocia died of wounds sustained in an earlier fire fight
with the government troops. Other HMB officers who were either
killed or captured were Neri O. Ty, Paterno Patrimonio alias
Kulafu, Teodoro Tejada alias Baking of the Trigger Group,
Simplicio Casas alias Stalin, of Field Command No. 63 and a
certain Gonzales, alias Mabini. The downfall of these personalities
broke up the regional command of the CPP hierarchy in Panay.

The first major operation conducted in 1952 was Operation


“Four Roses” that started on April 6, with the mission to kill or
capture the top four personalities of the Huk movement, namely:
Luis Taruc, Jesus Lava, Alfredo Dimasalang and Jose de Leon
alias Dimasalang. This operation was launched by the 1st MA and
covered the provinces in Central Luzon bordering the Sierra
Madre Mountains, including Quezon, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan.

Employed in the campaign were the 22nd BCT under the


command of Lt. Col. Santos Garcia; the 12th BCT under Lt. Col.
Bartolome Magud; the 18th BCT under Lt. Col. Jacinto Leoncio;

50
the 5th BCT under Lt. Col. Fidel Llamas and the 19th BCT under Lt.
Col. Ramon Aguirre. Five Scout Ranger teams, ten dog teams, a
PAF unit under the command of Lt. Col. Benito Ebuen and a
Marine Company also lent support to the operation. A total of 4,
220 officers and men were employed in the month-long operation.

When the operation ended in May 6, not one of the top


four Huk leaders was accounted for. However, Operation “Four
Roses” was significant and fruitful because it brought about the
capture of William Pomeroy and his wife, Celia Mariano, who were
both ranking members of the CPP’s National Education
Department. Moreover, seventeen HMB’s were killed and nine
others were captured. Ten firearms and 83 rounds of ammunition
were confiscated. The government troopers, on the other hand,
sustained five killed and one wounded.

A year later, in 1953, AFP intelligence operations had


made significant progress in the overall anti-dissident campaigns.
Romeo Taruc, son of the Huk Supremo, was captured. His
revelations led to the apprehension of other ranking personalities
in other regional commands. Regional Command No. 7,
specifically, was completely decimated. By the end of the year, the
HMB’s had sustained the following losses: 973 killed, 971
captured and 1, 722 surrendered.

In Bicolandia, a military intelligence report in July 1954


indicated the whereabouts of Mariano P. Balgos, the commander
of Regional Command No. 5, as having established his head-
quarters in the Mt. Labo area of Camarines Norte. Thereafter, the
2nd MA launched Operation “Roll-Up.” The 24th and 26th BCT’s,
with two companies from the Lightning Sector, elements of the
Rainbow Sector and the FA Battery of the 16th BCT made up the
striking force. In the initial search operations, the rugged and
leech-infested terrain proved hazardous to the troops.

Five months after the onset of the operation, the 24th BCT
under Col. Aristeo Feraren got its long-awaited break after the
surrender of Commander Rading, the chief security officer of
Balgos. Thereafter, Scout Ranger Teams headed by Captains

51
Francisco Alesna, Delfin Panelo and Honorato Galan were
ordered to capture Balgos. Simultaneously the 24th BCT cordoned
Upper Buoy, Manito, Albay. Hours later, the troops encountered
the security forces of Balgos. A fire fight ensued, resulting in three
of Balgos’ six guards being captured.

Not long after, government troops were again hot on the


heels of Balgos. Finally, on November 19, 1954, pursuing troops
overtook Balgos and killed him while he resisted arrest. His death
dealt a paralyzing blow to the dissident movement in the Bicol
Region.

Another operation, “Milagrosa,” was planned at Head-


quarters 20th BCT, Plaridel, Bulacan. The 1st MA under the
command of then Colonel Manuel Cabal was ordered to conduct
this operation. The area of operation extended to Mounts Negron,
Cuadro and Dorst in the Zambales mountain ranges, the Sierra
Madre Mountains, Candaba Swamp and Mt. Arayat. To
accomplish its mission, 1st MA committed into action four sector
commands namely; PAMBUL, NETAR, BATZAM and ZAMPAN
with a total of 48 rifle companies and three artillery batteries.
Aside from the 4,500 organic ground troops, the 1st Cavalry
Squadron and the Fifth Fighter Wing, PAF, were also employed in
the operation.

Then Colonel Papa stated that Operation “Milagrosa” was


the most fruitful in terms of accomplishment. Huk personalities
were eliminated and firearms confiscated. It was also the most
protracted operation in terms of its uninterrupted duration and was
the largest operation ever launched in the 1st MA or any area for
that matter during the period.

Tasked with the destruction, capture and/or the surrender


of Luis Taruc, the Huk Supremo alias “Oboe”, Col. Papa and his
men practically covered all but two or three provinces in the 1st
Military Area as they took the calculated risk of concentrating their
efforts to get, dead or alive, the objective of the operations.

52
On the night of February 22, known Huk hideouts and
production bases were destroyed and burned in the vast sphere of
operation by the 5,000 troops in the Pampanga-Zambales border.
After almost a month of securing the area, it was gathered that the
Huk Supremo had slipped into Mount Arayat at the end of March.

In early April, Filemon Cayanan, a leading Huk


commander, was captured in San Miguel, Bulacan, and revealed
vital information in the movements of Taruc. By May, 1954, two of
the most trusted men of Taruc were captured in a raid by no less
than the Task Force Commander. Cruz, one of Taruc’s elite
guards revealed that he had escorted Taruc to the vicinity of San
Isidro, San Simon and Pampanga. A day after, some 1,300
intelligence men and troops were employed along Apalit and San
Simon in preparation for the final showdown against Taruc. The
main bulk of the PAMBUL troops were deployed in the one-
kilometer square area in San Simon where the Supremo was
hiding.

Col. Papa later stated that Taruc was well-respected by his


men and that his organization, like any military group, was well
disciplined. Hence, the primary strategy employed was to deny
him and his men sanctuary, cutting them off from their main and
secondary sources supply. It was envisioned that this strategy
would force the enemy to come out in the open to the ground of
his choice, so that he had to fight it out or give up unconditionally.
In support of this strategy, psy-war campaigns were also
conducted such as the burning of the effigy of Taruc in public
rallies. Public relations were also given paramount importance as
exemplified by the friendly and warm attitude of the civil populace
towards military personnel in the middle of the operation. The left-
hand or “all-out friendship” technique facilitated the extraction of
important and timely information.

The Milagrosa Command was certain that Taruc’s end was


in sight when orders from higher authority were received directing
that Benigno Aquino, Jr., then Manila Times newspaperman and
personnel envoy of President Ramon Magsaysay, would effect the
surrender of the Huk Supremo. As confirmed by Taruc himself, he

53
was “already ringed in by army troops when he decided to
surrender.”9 In this connection, Col. Papa also concurred with the
view that the 1st MA forces had sealed off Taruc’s hide-out, most
of his retinue had been killed, captured or had surrendered and
he, himself, was being cornered into a fast constricting area,
which left Taruc no alternative but to yield.”

True to Army tradition and in spite of the sacrifices of the


Milagrosa troops, both in sweat and in blood, the officers and men
gave full protection while Mr. Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. effected
Taruc’s surrender.

When the operation finally drew to a close, a total of 195


HMB casualties were accounted for, 99 assorted firearms and
thousands of rounds of ammunition were confiscated. Also
destroyed were 562 huts and 84 production bases. The
government troopers meanwhile sustained six killed and four
wounded, lost two firearms and one L-5 which crashed while air-
dropping supplies.

In the successful accomplishment of the mission to locate,


destroy, capture or cause the surrender of Luis Taruc and his top
officers, Col Ricardo Papa, the Task Force Commander, Lt. Col
Noel Dayot, PAMBUL commander and Lt. Col. Segundo Velasco
G-2 Chief, were awarded the Distinguished Service Star (DSS). 1st
Lt. Juan Navarette, SSgt. Francisco Galao and Cpls. Ireneo Cube,
Bonifacio Antolin, Felipe Arca and Felipe Mapanao were awarded
the Gold Cross Medals for bravery during the operation. A total of
163 officers and men were recipients of the Military Merit Medal in
the most protracted and most fruitful operation in the 1950s which
decisively broke the backbone of the Huk movement.

Anti - Subversion Law

The relentless conduct of major and small unit operations


against the Huks received an added boost when Carlos P. Garcia
was elected to the presidency in 1957. Representative Joaquin
Roces of Manila, who was chairman of the Committee on Anti-
Filipino Activities (CAFA), decided to push through the enactment

54
of Republic Act 1700, otherwise known as the Anti-Subversion
Law, which was approved by President Garcia. It was approved
on June19, 1957, and was seen as a fitting gift to Dr. Jose Rizal,
the country’s national hero during the celebration of his birth
anniversary. RA 1700 outlawed the Communist Party of the
Philippines and similar associations and penalized membership
therein. The ground upon which the Anti-Subversion Law was
enacted was stated in its preamble, thus:

“The Communist Party of the Philippines, although


purportedly a political party, is in fact an organized
conspiracy to overthrow the government of the Republic of
the Philippines not only by force but also by deceit,
subversion and other illegal means, for the purpose of
establishing in the Philippines a totalitarian regime subject
to alien domination and control, and … in face of an
organized, systematic and persistent subversion, national
in scope but international in direction posed by the
Communist Party of the Philippines and its activities, there
is urgent need for special legislation to cope with this
continuing menace to the freedom and security of the
country.”

Upon the close of regular session in 1956, the Committee


sought the cooperation of the Department of National Defense,
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the NBI, the NICA and other
government agencies which had to do with the prosecution of
violators of the country’s penal laws.

Moreover, the Committee found that Communism in the


Philippines reached its peak during the elections of 1949 which
was characterized by fraud and terrorism designated to insure the
election of administration candidates. Conversely, the Communist
cause suffered a stinging setback after a clean and orderly
election of 1951 under the leadership of then Secretary of National
Defense Ramon Magsaysay.

A potent weapon against the Huks, the Anti-Subversion


Law was the result of a serious study conducted by the Committee

55
on Anti-Filipino Activities in order to cope with the situation
brought about by the sudden communist change of tactics.
Significantly, during the period, more than 3,000 members were
exempted from the penal provisions of the country’s rebellion laws
upon renunciation of membership within thirty days from the
approval of the law.

While giving teeth to the rebellion laws, the provision of the


Anti-Subversion Law also posed guarantees to forestall any
possibility of its abuse by witch hunters. Hence, RA 1700 provided
that no prosecution under it shall be made unless the city or
provincial fiscal, or any special attorney or prosecutor duly
designated by the Secretary of Justice found a prima facie case. It
also provided that nothing in the act should be interpreted as
restriction to freedom of thought, freedom of assembly and of
association for purposes not contrary to law.

With the passage of this legislation, the threat posed by


the Huk insurgency to the nation’s security was greatly
diminished. The authorities indeed believed that the Huk threat
had ended. The process, however, was certainly helped by the
Army’s commitment not only to the military aspects of the
campaign, but to its socioeconomic aspects as well.

Role of Magsaysay

Immediately after Ramon Magsaysay assumed office as


Secretary of National Defense, he continued to work on a series of
measures designed to supplement the government’s punitive
drive. One such measure was the intensification of intelligence
operations by the MIS. In response to this, the MIS fielded some
ten intelligence teams that operated within the Army’s BCTs. Its
operatives also operated in Manila and other peripheral areas.
Another measure was the creation of a Public Affairs Office (PAO)
in the Department of National Defense headed by Major Jose D.
Crisol. This agency which took care of psychological warfare
teams were fielded to conduct public rallies and audio-visual
demonstration to the masses showing the pernicious effects of
communism.

56
President Magsaysay talks to a captured dissident as soldiers
secure the premise. (National Library)

An officer from the Public Affairs Office (PAO) tells the crowd on
the evils of communism (National Library)

57
Encouraged by the success of a raid on the Politburo itself,
Secretary Magsaysay activated on December 15, 1950 the Eco-
nomic Development Corps (EDCOR) in the AFP as an adjunct to
psychological warfare operation of the government. This new
agency was created to look into the economic rehabilitation,
spiritual rejuvenation and the return of normalcy of dissidents who
chose to return to the pathway of peace. While it did not supplant
the armed effort, EDCOR contributed much to the whole cam-
paign. During Magsaysay’s tenure, a total of 9,458 Huks sur-
rendered peacefully to the government, with most of who were re-
settled in EDCOR farms.10

Secretary Magsaysay utilized his experience as a guerilla


fighter in his campaign against the Huks. He offered huge
amounts of money rewards for the capture, “dead or alive”, of
ranking communist leaders. The total amount reached as high as
P250,000. However, members of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines were exempted from collecting the cash rewards
because they were only doing what was their sworn duty.

In order to generate funds for these awards, Secretary


Magsaysay established a Peace Fund to be raised from the more
affluent members of the community. Vice President Fernando
Lopez was selected Chairman of the Committee. Not long after,
this committee was converted into the Peace and Amelioration
Fund Commission.

In lieu of the monetary rewards that the Armed Forces


personnel could not get, Magsaysay instituted the policy of
granting on-the-spot promotions and awards to deserving soldiers.
Magsaysay also put a stop to the old practice of “passing the
buck” and went after officers who shirked their duties. He
promised immediate promotions as in the case of Lt. Col. Alfredo
M. Santos, who was promoted to full colonel for distinguished
leadership of the Panay Task Force that ensured that elimination
of Guillermo Capadocia in 1951. In November 1954, Secretary
Magsaysay pinned a star on Santos’ shoulders for the killing of
Mariano Balgos by troops of the 2nd Military Area that was under
his command.

58
Magsaysay’s campaign was not only limited to the Huks.
He frequently visited the Visayan Island to pacify dissatisfied
inhabitants. He also exerted efforts to stop the terrorist activities of
roving bands of outlaws, like the one led by Datu Tawan-Tawan
who roamed Kapatagan Valley as a bandit. Tawan-Tawan per-
sonally surrendered to Magsaysay through the initiative of Senator
Tomas Cabili.

From 1950 to 1955, records of the Philippine Army showed


that 6, 784 Huks were killed and 4, 702 captured. It was estimated
that there were around 25,000 armed communists in 1950. In the
next five years, four fifths of this number were killed, captured or
surrendered voluntarily. This figure alone showed the
determination of Magsaysay in his campaign against dissidents.
Moreover, these achievements earned the admiration of the rest
of the democratic countries.

Intensification of Intelligence Operations

The Armed Forces of the Philippines in its fight against


communism modified the organizational structure of its intel-
ligence units. The Philippine Army as one of the subordinate units
of the AFP was not spared in this regard. During this period, the
various intelligence sections of the Army were integrated into the
Military Service at GHQ in order to achieve better control,
supervision and coordination of all military intelligence operations.

The Army’s intelligence arm intensified and systematized


intelligence efforts. It always had an up-to-date picture of the
enemy situation, its strength, as well as its sympathizers in all
sectors of the community. In order to gather more accurate and
timely information and reports, the Philippine Army established
and maintained a well-organized informant’s networks throughout
the archipelago. Moreover, some of the Army’s agents were sent
abroad and listening posts were established in countries like
Djakarta, Hong Kong, Saigon and Bangkok.11 This set-up provided
the intelligence machinery of the military and timely intelligence
information for the conduct of operations.

59
To prevent the members of the CCP from infiltrating and
using labor organization for their purpose, the G-2 Division of the
Army monitored the activities of the officials of the big labor unions
of the country to include their plans and intentions. Some of its
agents monitored their activities by infiltrating them during strikes,
labor union rallies, and seminars. In close coordination with the
Secretary of Labor, the Army was able to screen and check the
records of employees and laborers in labor unions especially in
Manila and its suburbs. As this was properly done, the Army was
able to uncover the subversive activities of certain labor unions
and accordingly recommended the revocation or suspension of
their licenses.

In addition to the primary duty of the intelligence personnel


of providing the much-needed intelligence information to the
combat forces, the military was also tasked to work on aliens,
most especially those Chinese whose activities were inimical to
the nation’s security.

In order to prevent enemy infiltration of military


establishment, the Army organized intelligence teams which
conducted security surveys for the security of all lower unit
installations. The division also conducted both scheduled and
unscheduled inspections to see that security measures were
properly enforced. Background investigations of varying
categories on PA personnel employed in all of its agencies and
installation were conducted. This was to ensure that appropriate
persons were placed in sensitive jobs, thereby minimizing the
probability of enemy infiltration into the military establishment.

Among the most notable Army achievements which led to


the decline to the Huk rebellion was the capture and arrest of
several top ranking HMB leaders. Among these leaders were:
Julia Mesina, wife of Kumander Tagumpay or Eusebio Simon,
leader of the political liquidation squad whose mission was to kill
the former National Defense Secretary, Oscar Castelo; Kumander
Limbas; Remy and Bienvinido Alfaro; Emiterio Garcia Y Pacheco,
SECOM Secretary; Eusebio Miranda, HMB organizer of SOC
Number 2; Vitaliano Reyes, SFP; Lope Pabalan, OD; and Ben

60
Joven, member, of the 16-man unit ordered to liquidate President
Magsaysay. Their efforts also led to the surrender of Severo
Colonel, chief of Education Department, RC 3; Remegio Centeno,
CO, FC 11; Federico Geronimo, CO FC 51; Gavino Gulapa, CO
Unit 4, FC 11. All possible evidences against these HMB’s were
made available to assist the city and provincial fiscals in the
prosecution of rebellion cases.

Other factors, however, adversely affected the conduct of


intelligence operations. Among these were: 1) uncomplimentary
state of secrecy, discipline and intelligence consciousness among
many military personnel; 2) inadequate number of field agents; 3)
lack of police presence; 4) insufficient radio direction finders to
cover critical areas in the Philippines, and 5) insufficient training of
intelligence personnel.

In spite of these problems, the Philippine Army was able to


arrive at an up-to-date picture of enemy organization. Through the
coordinated, aggressive and determined efforts of all combat
units, assisted by accurate and timely intelligence, the Army
weakened the combat efficiency of the enemy.

Fall of the Politburo

The stepped-up intelligence operations of the military


began to reap dividends. On October 18-19, 1950, its operatives
raided the Mayflower Apartments, a suspected politburo lair, at
Taft Avenue Manila. Arrested were 105 persons suspected of
being politburo members of the CPP. Among those apprehended
were Jose Lava, Arturo and Angel Baking, Federico Maclang,
Simeon Rodriguez, Federico Bautista, and Ramon Espiritu, all of
whom were indicted, tried and meted out punishments ranging
from life imprisonment to death.

The raiders also seized documents disclosing the


existence of a revolutionary situation in the Philippines since
November 1949. The fall of the Politburo was the heaviest blow
dealt the communist conspiracy as confirmed by William and Celia
Mariano Pomeroy, who were themselves later captured by

61
government troops. Mention must be made here that this was
Secretary Magsaysay’s foremost accomplishment during his
incumbency.

It is also worth mentioning that the existing party struggle


between Jess Lava and the Taruc brothers, Luis and Peregrino,
also paved the way for its rapid decline. The conflicts also resulted
in the capitulation of some Huk leaders, which other Communist
Party leaders interpreted as being traitors, highlighted by the
surrender of Luis Taruc to Magsaysay in 1954. The decline of the
rebellion was further aggravated by the series of defeats suffered
by the HMB due to the CPP’s incorrect handling of cadres, its
sectarianism and efforts of the leadership to perpetuate the
interest of the Lava brothers.

Luis Taruc surrenders to Maj.Gen Jesus Vargas in the presence


of Under-Secretary of Defense Jose Crisol and army aides. (PA
Museum)

62
Chapter 3

BATTLE STINT IN KOREA

Background

When the southern half of the Korean Peninsula was


invaded by communist forces from North Korea on June 22, 1950,
the United States government was the first to recognize the
dangers posed by such an aggressive act. Through President
Harry S. Truman, the United States pledged an all-out military
support for South Korea. The whole range of American power
stood behind this pledge.

A chain of reaction was generated. The governments of


Australia, Belgium, France and Great Britain made similar ges-
tures of assistance. Canada, Greece and Norway quickly followed
suit. The Philippine Republic also pledged its support and acted
decisively by shipping to the South Korean warfront seventeen
Sherman medium tanks and one tank destroyer.1 This concrete
action was consummated in July, notwithstanding the country’s
deep involvement in a bitter fratricidal that was spawned by the
local communist dissident problem.

In August, the Philippines publicly announced her intention


of sending an armed contingent to South Korea. At the same time,
she proposed to the United States government that this contingent
would serve in South Korea under the American flag. Con-
sequently, Washington took official cognizance of this preferred
assistance for which the United States expressed appreciation to
the Philippines.

The initial pledges of support soon generated worldwide


concern. Under the auspices of the Security Council, the United
Nations unanimously approved a resolution calling for all member
nations to furnish assistance to repel the armed attack against
South Korea. This was in proper recognition of the perils to world
peace and stability that the new threat had spawned.

63
To implement the UN mandate, the Philippines came out
with a bill that would legalize the sending of an armed contingent
to Korea. The bill received favorable endorsement from both
houses of Congress.

On September 7, 1950, Republic Act 573, known as the


“Philippine Military Aid to the UN Act,” was approved. It provided
for the organization, equipping and maintenance of Philippine
Expeditionary Forces for service in the enforcement of policies
sanctioned by the United Nations in South Korea. It also
prescribed the rates of pay and allowances for officers and men of
the AFP while in such services. Likewise, it established a com-
pensation for death or disability to members of the expeditionary
forces and appropriated a total of P17,955,400 for the first con-
tingent to be sent.

The sending of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to


Korea (PEFTOK) in the early fifties as authorized by this
legislative fiat was in consonance with the Philippines’ advocacy
of giving aid to friendly countries, especially to her neighbors.
Besides, the Korean conflict constituted an immediate threat to
her external security.

The 10th Battalion Combat Team

Shortly after the approval of RA 573, the first contingent of


the PEFTOK was chosen to undergo the required training.
Selected to represent the Republic of the Philippines in the United
Nations Command in Korea was the 10th Battalion Combat Team.
It was then the only trained armored unit in the whole AFP.

Originally, known as the 3rd BCT, this unit was activated on


April 29, 1949. Since its inception, it had been thrown into the
government’s anti-dissident campaign where it was able to carve
out an enviable combat record. On January 24, 1950, it was
redesignated the 10th BCT (Motorized), and had the following
major components: one infantry battalion, one company of
medium tanks, one company of light tanks and armored
reconnaissance vehicles, and a battery of self-propelled artillery.

64
In addition, it had medical, engineer, signal corps and supply
units.

On September 2, the officers and men of the battalion,


numbering 1,375, were assembled on the wide grounds of the
Rizal Memorial Stadium and in full battle gear; they stood before
some 60,000 cheering people who had converged to witness the
rousing send-off rites for the battalion.2

The ceremonies, sponsored by the Manila Jaycees, were


attended by an array of high-ranking national government and
civic and religious officials. Among them were Monsignor Gabriel
M. Reyes, Archbishop of Manila, who gave his blessings to the
departing soldiers; Secretary of National Defense Ramon
Magsaysay, who delivered an inspirational talk; Dr. Carlos P.
Romulo, President of the United Nations General Assembly, who
handed the UN colors to Col. Mariano Azurin, Commanding
Officer of the 10th BCT, and President Elpidio Quirino, who
personally gave the Philippine national flag to Col. Azurin.
President Quirino inspired the Filipino soldiers with his message:

“Today, we begin to write a wonderful page in our history.


Many of you you have fought on our soil to secure freedom. You
now go forth to a foreign land to fight for the preservation of that
freedom…”3

The unprecedented rally was capped by the marching of


the battalion in a colorful review before the public. The huge crowd
broke into a thunderous ovation as the soldiers passed the jam
packed grandstand. After the affair, the battalion returned to Camp
Murphy (now Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo) to wait for the ship
that would transport its personnel and equipment to Korea, which
was also known as the “Land of the Morning Calm.”

At about 4:00 in the morning of September 15, the officers


and men of the battalion boarded the United States Navy
transport, the USS Sgt Sylvester Antolak, which had been
specially dispatched to the Philippines to fetch the unit. After four
days, the ship reached Pusan harbor. Shortly after the welcome

65
ceremonies aboard the ship, the 10th BCT disembarked. Its
personnel were brought southward to Miryang, a typical-looking
South Korean village nestling between two hills thirty-five miles
north of Pusan.

Like most remote Philippine provincial areas, Miryang’s


roads were pockmarked and dusty. Tired by the overland journey,
the Filipino soldiers finally reached Miryang. While there, the men
were bothered by the biting coldness at night. To acclimatize
themselves, they conducted guerilla warfare exercises which were
usually held every morning.

Their superb performances impressed some officers of the


Eight US Army, among them Col. Alexander Lancaster, Assistant
G-3, who remarked; “Give me the Filipino combat team and I will
fight anywhere above the 38th Parallel”. During afternoons, the
men played games. At night, they had movies, after which they
held programs for entertainment.

The unit was placed under the operational and logistical


control of the Army’s 25th Infantry Division. Its mission was to
defend its sector at Weagwan. Principally, it had to protect all vital
bridges and tunnels along the United Nations supply route running
from Taegu to Weagwan and from there to Kumohon. Since the
battalion had no time to retrain, Colonel Azurin exploited the
situation by familiarizing his men with the terrain. At the same
time, to broaden their experience in outpost duty, he disposed the
component units in a broad area.

On October 14, a combat patrol of the unit finally caught


up with the Communists in the village Kuryong in the Songgu
area. This was the first engagement with the enemy. The patrol
recovered two tons of artillery ammunition and captured two North
Koreans, the first Communists ever to fall into the hands of Filipino
fighting men.

Tactical interrogation of these prisoners yielded the information


that a large number of enemy was holed in the area assigned to
“A” Company, 10th BCT. Acting on this intelligence information,

66
10th BCT soldiers stand proud to fight for democracy before being
deployed to Korea. (National Library)

67
the company dispatched combat patrols to the hills. As a pre-
dawn patrol approached a steel bridge spanning the Naktong
River after descending a hill, the Communists opened fire. The
first to fall was Pvt. Alipio S. Secillano of Libon, Albay, who died
instantly at three o’clock in the morning of October 23. He was
later buried in the United Nations Command military cemetery at
Taegu.

On November 1, the Battalion moved to Pyongyang and


was attached to the 187th Regimental Combat Team, U.S. Army,
under Brig. Gen. Frank Bower. Its mission was to secure the Main
Supply Route (MSR) from Kaesong to Pyongyang, exclusive of
the city, and to clear the area of enemy guerillas. At Hwangju, the
unit established a municipal government with the Philippine
Army’s Major Gamaliel Manikan, Executive Officer, as town
mayor. Major Manikan made it clear that the system was not a
military government and that it allowed local officials to carry as
much of the burden of administration as the situation demanded.

At the outskirts of Nuidong, “C” Company engaged an


estimated battalion-size enemy force. In this encounter, fifty
Communists were killed while the 10TH BCT suffered only one
man killed. On November 3, at two o’clock in the afternoon, the
battalion had a chance encounter with enemy stragglers in a
residential district in Hwangju. Before the Communists could
swing into action, however, the area was placed under the siege
by elements of “A” Company and the Tank Reconnaissance
Companies under Captains Antonio Y. Concepcion, Bienvinido
Baquirin and Marcos Garcia, respectively. The five-man
commando team led by Lt. Bonifacio Serrano was the first unit to
enter the area. This team distinguished itself in a gallant raid
which netted substantial gains at nightfall of the same day with
167 stragglers, two Russian MM machine guns, several boxes of
ammunition, and three sacks Korean wons (money) accounted
for.

After the raid at Hwangju, the Battalion set out on one of its
first battalion-size combat operations against two enemy bat-
talions well- entrenched in the mountain village of Singye. On the

68
way a truck, at the end of the column, hit a land mine.
Immediately, the battalion deployed into combat formation and
pounded the enemy from high ground. After a heavy artillery and
mortar barrage, the enemy troops attempted to occupy the area
but were quickly mowed down. This encounter resulted in the
death of 50 communists while the battalion lost one soldier with
several wounded.

On November 24, the quiet and hard-working Colonel


Azurin, having been recalled by the Philippine government for a
new assignment, bade goodbye to the unit. He extolled his officers
and men to give as much loyalty and devotion to the man who
would succeed him. Lieutenant Colonel Gamaliel Manikan, Acting
PEFTOK Commander, temporarily filled the position vacated by
Colonel Azurin.

Disregarding ranks to forestall the collapse of the morale


of the 10th BCT with the recall of Azurin, Major Dionisio S. Ojeda
was designated not only to fill a vacancy in headquarters, but also
to fill a void in the hearts of the men. A Bataan veteran and a
graduate of the Command and General Staff College in Fort
Leavenworth, Kansas, Ojeda was in Korea as a United Nations
military observer when he was appointed PEFTOK Commander.

Early in December 13, after having accomplished their


mission, the Filipino soldiers pulled out from Wichonni and
proceeded to cross the 38th parallel southward down to the South
Korean town of Munsanni, north of Seoul. Here the 10th BCT was
detached from the 187th RTC and was subsequently attached to
the 1st Cavalry Division under Maj. Gen. Hobart Gay. The unit later
moved to Shuwon where it was attached to one of the division’s
regiments under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Orville
Johnson who fought in Bataan during the last war.

Two days later, some 50 Communists engaged a patrol of


“B” Company under Captain Paulino Sanchez in the vicinity of
Chudong. This resulted in the death of 14 enemy soldiers. An
estimated 200-man group equipped with machine guns and
mortars encountered elements of the Reconnaissance and “B”

69
Companies in the vicinity of Sucheddong. Twenty enemy soldiers
were killed, while the rest dispersed towards the hills of
Huangdusan.

On January 2, 1951, the 10th BCT occupied the left flank of


the 6th Republic of Korea (ROK) Division until it finally regrouped
at the vicinity of Okan-dong. Upon its relief from attachment with
the 1st Cavalry Division on January 14, it moved to the vicinity of
Yongdong. It secured the MSR between Kumchon and Taegu. In
that mission, the 2nd Security Battalion, ROK Division, was
attached to it operationally. Meanwhile, the enemy guns from
across the Han River that had defied the 10th BCT’s barrage for
the past five days were finally silenced when the Filipino battery
unleashed its massive gunfire on their emplacements. The enemy
batteries were located on the night of March 12 by a nine-man
patrol led by Lieutenant Bonifacio Serrano who crossed to the
enemy-occupied territory north of the Han River in a small craft.

Two days later, “B” Company occupied Shinchon-ni, an


island in the Han River. During the advance of the UN forces, the
battalion crossed the Han River and occupied outpost positions
northeast of Seoul. The next day, the 10th BCT joined the assault
northward, capturing its objectives, specifically Hill 357 on the left
and Hill 675 on the right, northeast of Tongduchon. The battalion
killed eleven and captured ten communists and accepting eight
more Koreans who surrendered and on the Filipino side, two men
were wounded in the operation.4 Afterward, the combat team
pushed toward the 38th parallel in a patrol action, knocking out a
Chinese counter-attack in a three-hour pitched battle. Elements of
“C” Company, under the command of Captain Dominador
Tenazas and operating in enemy territory, liberated two prisoners
of war and at the same time picked up four Nokors (North
Koreans).

Two privates in the patrol displayed exceptional heroism in


this skirmish with the communists. When the patrol was pinned
down by severe mortar fire, they bravely climbed an enemy ridge
to attack enemy emplacements. Bonifacio Takde, by approaching
the enemy undetected, was able to kill the enemy gunner and

70
wounded another. Private Benito Dacusin also killed another
communist gunner with a single burst from his gun.

On April 5, the 10th BCT moved to the frontline near


Kusoktong and participated in the operation. In this encounter, the
battalion suffered a total of four KIAs against enemy losses of 115
KIAs and 3 POWs. The unit passed through Susuktong, attacking
northward and by April 14, it was farthest north among the UN
forces. However, three days later it was relieved from the frontline
and reverted to the reserve of the US 65th Infantry Regiment.

On April 12, the Filipino troops were rushed to Yultong. By


then, the first visible signs of the Chinese Communist Forces
spring offensive were already apparent. The 10th BCT moved up
to Yultong Ridge to take its position as part of the “Utah Line.”

A minute after midnight, the Chicoms (Chinese Com-


munists) shifted their line of attack by throwing the main bulk of
their manpower into the gap between the 10th BCT’s Bravo and
Tank Companies. The Tank Company was then under the com-
mand of Capt. Conrado Yap. The Chicoms came in human waves
but the Filipino troopers mowed them down.

In the din of battle, a platoon of “B” Company was literally


pushed back from a strategic hill opening a major breakthrough for
the Chicoms after four hours of furious combat. “C” Company was
hit in its reserve position. It was written off as lost but it survived
the onslaught. The combat companies were then separated and
forced to fight their own battles. The BCT’s disorganized elements
also became easy targets of enemy small-arms fire.

Captain Yap and his junior officer, Lt. Jose Artiaga Jr.,
were killed in this action at Yultong. For his gallantry and
intrepidity, Capt. Yap was posthumously awarded the Medal of
Valor, the Philippines’ highest award for heroism.
As the 10th BCT was ordered to withdraw; the tank
company was directed to act as holding and covering force.
However, the two flanks were left open by withdrawing units and
the enemy was quick to fill the resulting vacuum. The communists

71
redoubled their efforts to strengthen the envelopment of the tank
company to eliminate this obstacle to their forward drive. But the
tank company refused to move out and instead of withdrawing
according to orders, proceeded to reorganize and rally in a last
courageous assault to recover their dead and injured comrades.
After doing this, the company conducted an orderly withdrawal
despite having to run a gauntlet of enemy fire.

The tenacity of purpose, the courage, the faith with which


the tank company achieved its long and bitterly contested stand
prevented a large sector of the United Nation’s front from
collapsing. The company displayed such gallantry, determination
and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely
difficult and hazardous conditions to set it apart and above other
units participating in the action.

The 10th BCT then was assigned to the operational control


of the 29th British Independent Brigade and was given the mission
of trying to break through and rescue the surrounded Gloucester
Battalion in April 24. It also established a blocking position on Hill
203 to relieve the trapped British Battalion, but met stiff resistance.
The battalion also established blocking positions on Hills 194 and
106, with “A,” “B” and “C” companies positioned on Hill 194 and
the Reconnaissance Company on Hill 106. The Reconnaissance
Company shortly saw action when it was hit by a company- size
hostile force from the northwest. It held its ground.

In all battles fought by the 10th BCT from April 22 to April


25, the results were quite impressive. It had killed 501 Communist
soldiers, wounded an undetermined number and captured two. On
its side, twelve Filipinos were killed in action, thirty-eight wounded
and six missing in action.

On April 26 at 1:30 A.M., the blocking position however


became untenable, and units were ordered to withdraw southeast
of the MSR. At 3:30 in the morning, the column of rifle companies
was hit from the north and southeast by an estimated company-
size enemy unit. Elements of “A” and “C” companies fought their
way out and were able to make it to the assembly area at 7:30

72
A.M. In this engagement, the battalion sustained one man killed in
action, three wounded and forty-four missing.5

On May 16, the Korean Times mentioned the brilliant


exploits of Filipino troops in their heroic but unsuccessful efforts to
rescue the Gloucester Battalion. This was during the start of the
Red spring offensive in April. The Pacific Stars and Stripes also
played up the role of the 10th BCT in a special feature entitled,
“The Fighting Filipino.”

On July 14, a reinforced platoon from “A” Company on


patrol encountered an estimated company-size enemy force three
miles in front f the “Wyoming Line”. This encounter resulted in
thirty-two enemy soldiers killed. The patrol suffered ten killed,
three wounded in action and nine missing.

The 10th BCT stayed in Korea for about a year, patrolling


and securing supply lines and serving in the front line. In the end
of August, 1951, the 20th BCT, commanded by Col Salvador
Abcede, arrived in Korea, to take over the mission of the 10th BCT.

On September 6, exactly sixteen days after the 20th BCT


arrived; the big event for the 10th BCT finally arrived. In their best
combat uniforms, the officers and men of the two battalions
assembled on a flat ground, surrounded by hills, in the village of
Munjal, seven miles from Chorwon. In a touching ceremony, Col.
Ojeda officially turned-over the command of PEFTOK to Col.
Abcede, Ranking United Nations force commanders also attended
the ceremony.

The following day, the Battalion CP moved to Haridong.


Two days later, it was relieved by the first batch of 20th BCT men,
comprising of eight officers and 350 men. It was not until
September 27, 1951, when the last batch of personnel of the 10th
BCT left the frontline for Pusan. Three days later, this complement
of twenty-seven officers and 287 enlisted men boarded a
Philippine Navy LST for the journey back home to the Philippines.

On October 23, 1952, the main bulk of the returning sol-

73
diers, dubbed the “Fighting Tenth,” entered historic Manila Bay.
Col. Ojeda was with the men as the ship approached Pier 13.
They were greeted personally by Secretary of National Defense
Ramon Magsaysay. In his welcome speech, he praised the 10th
BCT for its fine combat performance. Maj. Gen. Albert Pierson,
Chief of the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG), hailed
the battalion and congratulated the boys for their part in the fight
against communism. “The Fighting Tenth” was given a rousing
welcome for a job well done.

For their efforts, the 10th BCT troops garnered a Medal of


Valor, six Distinguished Conduct Stars, a Distinguished Silver
Star, eleven Gold Cross Medals, and fifty Military Merit Medals.
Capt. Conrado Yap who was killed in action was awarded the
Medal of Valor posthumously. The Distinguished Conduct Star
was awarded to 1st Lt. Jose Artiaga, Jr., also posthumously, and to
Sgt Andres de Guzman, Pfc. Loreto Canipog, Pfc. Sulpicio
Fernandez, Pfc. Amado Sibunga and Pfc. Leon Tadena. Col.
Dionisio Ojeda was the lone recipient of the Distinguished Silver
Star. The recipients of the Gold Cross Medal were Maj. Mariano
Robles, Capt. Paulino Sanchez, Capt. Dominador Tenazas, 1st Lt.
Venancio M. Daquigan, 1st Lt. Norberto B. Blanco, 1st Lt. Bonny
Serrano, 1st Sgt. Esteban Porsuelo, SSgt. Nicolas L. Mahusay,
Cpl. Isidro Pecson, Cpl. Geronimo Naldoza Jr. and Pvt Dionisio
Sadang. On the other hand, two civilians, Salvador Rosete and
Dante Atibagos were awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor. The
Tank Company was converted into a Special Weapons Company,
and was cited “for exceptionally outstanding performance against
the armed enemy near Sinchon, Korea, on April 23, 1951”. The
10th BCT lost 91 officers and men with forty-three killed in action
and forty-eight missing in action.

The 20th Battalion Combat Team

This battalion was activated at Camp Murphy, Quezon City


on September 1, 1950 as a motorized contingent. It was ready for
assignment after it was built to full strength through enlistment and
transfer from other units in the army and after it completed its
basic training.

74
Immediately thereafter, it was sent to the field to participate
in the anti-dissident campaign. Its various elements operated for
several months in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga and
Nueva Ecija. It was alerted for possible duties in the Korean War
front because of its fine showing in the government’s punitive
drive against the enemies of the state.

In April 1951, the 20th BCT became the PEFTOK


Replacement Battalion. A month later, it was withdrawn from its
area of operations and transferred to Fort William Mckinley (now
Fort Andres Bonifacio). Here, it trained for more than two months
to prepare its personnel for strenuous combat duty. Lectures on
the modus operandi of the Communists were given. To top the
training ground, field exercises and stimulating war conditions in
Korea were conducted in areas where the terrain was quite similar
with that in the battle zone.

At the successful culmination of the scheduled fourteen-


week training program, its personnel were divided into three
groups for eventual shipment to Korea aboard Philippine Navy
LSTs. The 20th BCT was to relieve the 10th BCT whose tour of
duty was about to end. By September 5, all of its elements had
arrived in Korea where it completely relieved the now homebound
10th BCT.

In the Korean front, the 20th BCT was attached to US Army


units. First, it operated with the 3rd Infantry Division from
September 5, 1951 to April 11, 1952. Next, it was with the 45th
Infantry Division from April 12 to June 10. Between September 6
and September 26, 1951, the 20th BCT was committed at various
times in the United Nations Command counter-offensive along the
38th parallel north and northeast of Chorwon-Pyongyang plains
prior to the UN’s autumn offensive. During this UN action, the
battalion occupied Hills 313 and 321.

From September 26 to 27, the 20th BCT recaptured Hill


284 from the Chinese Communist Force (CCF) as part of the UN’s
offensive action north of Chorwon (Line Jamestown). This was the
20th BCT’s most prized plum at this time; when it launched a limit-

75
Tank crew on top of a Walker tank. Note the Philippine flag placed on
th
the turret / Filipino soldiers attached to the 45 ID on the main line of
resistance north of Yanggu. (Ministry of National Defense, Republic of
Korea)

On a snow covered ground, Filipino soldiers prepares for an enemy


Attack. (Ministry of National Defense, Republic of Korea)

76
ed objective attack on Line Duluth. It also executed a probing
assault on Osong-san in the vicinity of Snipyser Ridge.

On November 22, 1951, the 20th BCT was at Koyan-yari,


west of the Imjim River and south of Hill 317. Along with the 7th
Infantry Regiment of the US Army, the 20th BCT repelled the 64th
CCF Army which threw its three divisions against the UN
Command lines west of Imjim River for three successive nights
from 23 to 25 November 1951. The 20th BCT held on tenaciously
to its lines in the separate actions which were part of the famous
“Battle of the Alligator Jaw”. This battle compelled the communists
to accept the demarcation line.

The 20th BCT conducted patrols at Welcong-ni Castle ruins


and had the farthest penetration to the north towards Pyongyang.
On October 24, the unit participated in the fight for the bloody
triangle, advanced six miles to Nanyodong and stalled enemy
armor bound for Sibio-ni. At this time, advance elements of the
20th BCT were at the northernmost UN Forces in Korea. Its
combat patrols secured Orijong and T-bone Hills. Advancing in
line, its companies fought their way to Agok, West of “Little
Gibraltar,” Arrow and White Mountains.

In early part of February, the battalion reorganized and


established OPLR “Kelly”, “Nick”, “Tessie”, “Nori” and “Rusty”
notwithstanding communist attacks. As part of the UN winter
campaign, the “patrol to contact” of the battalion raided enemy
positions as far as “Old Baldy”, Hoesanongdong, Hill 168 and Hill
135, further clearing “Cavite” during this campaign.

The months of March and April, the battalion conducted


patrol actions east of Imjim reaching as far as Hills 171 and 223. It
resulted in the knocking out of several enemy tanks and self-
propelled guns and accounting for 360 CCF dead on VI Valley.
During this period, the 20th BCT was assigned in the assault
campaign of the UN Forces when a Greek Batallion was attacked
by CCF’s on 16 March 1952.

77
Meanwhile, at T-bone Hill in Karhwagol, west of Chorwon,
the battalion engaged the Chinese in nine separate combat
actions. Six of these actions were hand-to-hand and close-quarter
fights at Hills Eerie, 191, 198, 200, “Yoke” and “Old Baldy”, all in
T-bone Hill. Sgt Bill McCrockle of the Pacific Stars and Stripes,
reporting on the Filipino soldiers’ actions on Hill Eerie wrote:

“Seven of the nine encounters (between Chinese


and Filipino troops) were slashing bayonet and grenade-
tossing clashes which devastated three enemy platoons
and many squads. The final scaling of the Hill by Filipino
soldiers, an all daylight operations, occurred over a four-
day period. These series of charges began shortly after
Pfc. Demetrio Roldan, the squad cal. 50 machines gunner
killed one Red, wounded another, captured a third and let
the fourth one escape only after his gun jammed. The
same afternoon a platoon led by Lt. Rodolfo Maestro killed
and injured every Red in a dug-in platoon defending the
hill. There were twenty-eight dead Reds after a harried 30-
minute firefight. Two daylight patrols (by Filipino) killed 23
Reds while tanks, air strikes, mortars and artillery
accounted for 25 more.”

On May 21 of the same year, the final Filipino attack on Hill


Eerie was launched and was led by 2nd Lt. Fidel V. Ramos, a 1950
graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point. He was given
the mission to capture and destroy enemy forces, materiel and
installations on Hill Eerie. The 2nd Reconnaissance Platoon was
designated to accomplish the mission. Together with Lt. Ramos,
were some engineer demolition specialists and an artillery forward
observer team.

With three officers and 41 enlisted men, Lt. Ramos formed


four teams: a Sniper Team led by 2nd Lt. Armando Dizon, a Rifle
Team under Sgt. C. Drapeza, a Scout Team under Cpl. J. Palis
and a Forward Observer Team under 2nd Lt. Cosme Acosta. Lt.
Ramos had one radio operator, one messenger and one medical
aidman with him.

78
On the other hand, the enemy strength in Hill Eerie was
estimated to be one well-dug reinforced platoon. At about 8:21 in
the evening on May 4, the Reconnaissance Platoon of 2Lt. Ramos
started to crawl through the rice paddies towards the objective,
which was about two hours away. Without delay, the team of Cpl
Palis advanced following the trench on the right hill. On top of
Eerie, east of Bunker No. 1, Cpl. Palis emplaced his automatic
rifleman and deployed the rest of his men on a line to cover the
north edge of the hill. As this was done, Chinese forces began
throwing hand grenades, luckily not hitting a single Filipino. A little
later, two enemy soldiers went out of Bunker No 2. Immediately,
Palis’ rifleman fired several rounds killing the two others, then
crept towards Bunker No. 2, dropped several grenades and fired
into its slit, killing four Chinese soldiers inside.

At Bunker No. 3 hand grenades started flying out through


its top opening. Lt. Ramos by this time decided to join Cpl. Palis at
Bunker No.2 as his other grenadier worked his way to the top of
Bunker No.3. As the fighting was going on, two enemy soldiers
rushed out of this bunker forcing Lt. Ramos to fire his carbine,
instantly killing the two enemies.

The Scout Team on the other hand had exhausted its


supply of grenades. At this point, Lt. Ramos ordered his engineer
team to blast and seal Bunker No. 2 and 3 in spite of the
continuous enemy fire. At the battle raged, Sgt. Drapeza’s rifle
team worked its way towards the left side of the objective until it
established physical contact with the Scout Team of Cpl. Palis. As
team arrived, Sgt. Drapeza immediately deployed his men and
emplaced his rifleman on Point “M” on the left (west) side of Eerie,
while another rifleman was stationed at Point “F.” A minute later,
Drapeza saw three enemy soldiers run out of Bunker No. 4.
Together with his men, they engaged the enemy with grenades
and rifle fire, killing all of them. The enemy attempted to throw
several hand grenades, which was a futile attempt because none
of the Filipino troops was hit. As the exchange of fire continued,
The engineer team also continued to blast and seal Bunkers
4,5,6,7 and 8.

79
Rear command post of the 19th BCT. (National Library)

A big round up at Hwangiu captured 167 communists and


68 rifles. (Ministry of National Defense, South Korea)

80
Meanwhile, the Sniper Team of 2Lt. Dizon was already to
its designated position, southwest of Eerie. This team was
assigned to neutralize enemy supporting fire from the west. From
the start, the team received a heavy volume of fire from the enemy
west of Eerie along Hill 191, but the gallant Filipino soldiers kept
on fighting with all the firepower they could muster.

At about 7:18 A.M. enemy mortar shells began to hit the


hill. The shells were, however, too late to be of help to their
beleaguered comrades. The Filipino soldiers had practically
demolished all the bunkers while the enemy was apparently
pinned down throughout the firefight that lasted for twenty
minutes. At exactly 7:30 A.M., Lt. Ramos fired the signal to
withdraw. The three officers and 41 enlisted men of the platoon
who participated in the assault on Hill Eerie were able to return
without a single casualty. On the other hand, eleven Chinese
soldiers were killed in action while ten others were wounded.

In 350 days of combat duty in Korea, the 20th BCT had


sustained the following losses: 13 killed in action, 100 wounded in
action, and one missing in action. However, it came home with the
South Korean Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation. The Field
Artillery was awarded the Philippine Distinguished Citation Badge
for helping prevent the annihilation of one ROK Division.

Upon its return to the Philippines, on August 1952, its


strength was pruned down to the desired level in accordance with
local operational requirements. Then, it was thrown again into the
dissident- infested areas with its headquarters at Camp Oliveros in
Plaridel, Bulacan until it was deactivated on November 30, 1957.
Its record during the period was no less as distinguished as the
other AFP units operating in Central Luzon.

The 19th Battalion Combat Team

Initially the 19th BCT was known as the 19th Infantry Bat-
talion (Separate) when it was activitated on January 1, 1951. It
was a three-lettered rifle company with a heavy weapons
company. Its service elements consisted of the medical and dental

81
detachments and a signal corps team. Its elements operated
against the dissidents in Manila, Rizal, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija.

Upon completion of its basic unit training on April 1, the


unit was reorganized into a Battalion Combat Team. Accordingly,
its existing line elements were redesignated “I,” “K,” “L” and “M”
companies. The Reconnaissance Company, equipped with half-
tracks armed with machine guns and armored scout cars, was
added later. The Medical Detachment and the Signal Corps Team
were enlarged in proportion to the increase in the unit’s personnel.

Shortly after, the 19th BCT was designated as part of the


GHQ reserve. Consequently, it transferred from Fort William
McKinley to Camp Murphy. It was relieved as such on January 12,
1952.

The unit was again reorganized in January 1952, when it


became a motorized Battalion Combat Team. To its existing units
were added a Field Artillery Battery equipped with 105-mm
howitzers, a Replacements Group and an Augmentation Team.
With the addition of these units, the number of its organic
personnel was greatly enhanced.

After its relief from GHQ, the 19th BCT returned to Fort
McKinley. On January 16, it was alerted to replace the 20th BCT in
Korea. From that date on until the completion of its overseas
movement, the unit was officially known as the 19th BCT
(Motorized) PEFTOK Replacement. Beginning February 11,
sixteen-week of intensive ground training was conducted to
prepare its personnel for assignment to the front.

The training was designed to familiarize the men with


problems expected in the Korean front. In the first week of April,
1952, the battalion moved to rolling country in Novaliches, Quezon
City, where it conducted a series of field exercises. This was part
of the scheduled training, but it was cut short when the battalion
was ordered to fight and committed in the government’s anti-
dissident campaign.

82
On April 28, 1952, the 19th BCT’s overseas deployment to
Korea started. Its personnel were divided into three groups which
were transported aboard Philippine Navy LSTs. Its movement to
Korea was completed on June 28.

The first group, consisting mainly of administrative


personnel and key men of the line companies, arrived in Pusan,
Korea on May 8. Three days later, this same group moved to
occupy the frontline positions of the 20th BCT in the Chorwon-
Sibio-ni corridor after disembarking at the 45th Infantry Division’s
(U.S. Army) railhead at Taegwan-ni. The 19th BCT men relieved a
corresponding number of 20th BCT men who returned to the
Philippines on May 15.

With the second group of 19th BCT men, which left the
Philippines on May 26 and reached Pusan on June 5, were Col.
Ramon Z. Aguirre, the BCT’s commander, and his staff. The
command group consisted of Aguirre, unit commanders,
intelligence and operations officers who arrived at Camp Casey on
June 6. The rest of the officers and men followed the next day.
The last batch arrived in Pusan on June 28. Two days later, this
group joined the other 19th BCT elements that were already on the
MLR, taking over from the 20th BCT.

In Korea, the 19th BCT was operationally attached to the


U.S. Army’s 1st Corps. Later, it was attached to the U.S. 45th
Infantry Division which operated in the eastern sector of Korea.
Like the 10th and 20th BCTs, the 19th figured in many encounters
against the Communists. The soldiers of this famed battalion
acquitted themselves well in all their clashes with the enemy.
Their most outstanding performance was their action in the Battle
of Hills Eerie and 191. These adjacent hills were located at the
Chorwon-Sibio-ni area and considered as the most vulnerable
portion of the MLR of the UN forces.

On June 18, the battalion’s position on these hills received


intense artillery and mortar bombardment. The defenders fired
counterbattery with their own artillery pieces and mortars. The
day’s action resulted in the death of two Filipino soldiers and four

83
wounded. The enemy, on the other hand, reportedly sustained
several losses.

The following day “K” and “I” Companies were relieved by


“L” and Reconnaissance Companies. The enemy resumed its
artillery bombardment. The 19th BCT returned fire round for round.
During this battle, Lt. Apolio B. Tiano, commander f the 2nd
Reconnaissance Platoon and Lt. Cosme Acosta lost their lives,
while eight others were wounded. Intelligence reports revealed
that on that day, the enemy intended to launch a massive attack
and to try to break through the MLR, but the plan did not
materialize.

At 10:05 P.M. on the same day, the enemy attacked again


with an intense artillery and mortar barrage. Flares were fired,
which revealed the presence of enemy forces coming in waves
from several points towards Hills Eerie and 191. The hostile
bombardments coming from several positions around the hills
were terrific. The fight continued till morning of the next day.
Elements of the 19th BCT, however, held their ground gallantly.
Approximately 500 enemy troops were counted dead, while on the
Filipino side eight were killed and sixteen wounded. The unit was
awarded the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, because of the
battalion’s outstanding military feat.

The 19th BCT also fought the enemy in many other battles.
Other UN forces had none but high praises for the Filipino BCT. In
one year of combat duty in Korea, the “Bloodhound”, as the unit
became known, did well. The Korean Presidential Unit Citation
attested to this, as did a Battle Citation from the headquarters of X
Corps, under which the 45th “Thunderbird” Infantry Division (US)
operated in eastern Korea, and under which the 19th BCT
operated.

When it returned to the Philippines on April 3, 1953, the


19th BCT’s excess personnel were redeployed to other PA units,
and the 19th BCT was reverted to its regular BCT status.

84
The 14th Battalion Combat Team

The 14th BCT was activated on July 27, 1950, as one of


the small, highly-mobile combat units designated to go after the
Huks, who posed a dissident problem which hamstrung the
economic development of the Philippines. After completing its
basic organizational structure and after men were given the
required basic unit training, the 14th BCT was immediately thrown
into the anti-dissident campaign. At the time, the government’s
efforts to crush the Communist-inspired Huks had been
accelerated in order to give no respite to the enemies of the state.
The 14th BCT was assigned to the province of Rizal, where it
chalked up an impressive combat record. Because of its record,
then Secretary of National Defense Ramon Magsaysay called it
the “Avengers” battalion. It was for this same creditable showing
that it was also chosen as one of the Philippine Expeditionary
Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) contingents to help stem the tide of
communism in the Republic of South Korea.

In 1953, the 14th BCT under Col. Nicanor Jimenez left the
Philippines for the Korean front, uncertain of what it would face in
the foreign land, but obsessed only with the grim determination of
upholding the democratic ideals for which it had been sent there. It
landed in Pusan on March 26.

From Pusan, it was brought by train to Chunchon from


where its personnel boarded trucks for the Injo Valley. The officers
and men were given a brief rest in their bivouac area. After which,
intensive training was started to enable the men to learn new
tactics and techniques in fighting the Chinese Communist soldiers.

On May 15, the battalion hit the frontline on its first combat
mission. Its sector stretched for about one mile astride the Satae-ri
Valley. “B” Company occupied the ridge on the left of “Sandbag”
Castle, and on the valley floor were elements of “A” Company with
a platoon of tanks in support. Elements of “C” Company were on
“Heartbreak” Ridge.

While in this area, the battalion was given the mission of

85
denying the enemy the use of the valley. It was also responsible
for securing the commanding terrain at “Sandbag” Castle and
“Heartbreak” Ridge. To successfully prosecute this, they had to
initiate active defensive measures as deemed necessary. These
included aggressive patrol actions, harassing enemy lines with
artillery and small arms, and sending out combat patrols deep
inside enemy-held territory.

One action at “Heartbreak” Ridge was a small unit


engagement of a squad under SSgt. Ponciano Agno of “C”
Company. Another squad close by had been completely encircled,
thereby making its annihilation highly imminent. Through swift,
precise action, Sgt Agno maneuvered his men to extricate the
surrounded outfit. During this encounter, Pfc. Aquilino Agustin was
caught by the enemy and was being dragged away by CCF troops
when he pulled out and exploded two hand grenades in the face
of the enemy soldiers. This action resulted in the instantaneous
death of the communist soldiers, and Agustin was able to escape,
although he received shrapnel wounds notwithstanding the
armored vest and steel helmet he had at the time. For this singular
feat of heroism, Agustin was bestowed the U.S. Silver Star.

The month of May saw the battalion engaged in routine


patrolling actions. “The Avengers” inflicted casualties on the
enemy but as it was shifted westward to Hill 1142, they lost some
of their personnel. Four were killed in action, while twenty-seven
others were wounded in defending the Satae-ri Valley.

In June, the area of the 20th ROK Division was subjected to


intense pummeling blows from the enemy. As a consequence, the
45th Infantry Division (US) was sent to relieve the distressed
Korean unit. The 14th BCT, operating under the 45th Infantry
Division, was designated as the counterattacking force. It
established blocking positions at Pak Suk San. For eight days, it
secured the MSR. On June 14, the Reds zeroed in on the areas
assigned to “S,” “B,” “C” and the Reconnaissance Companies.
The devastating blows exacted a heavy toll on these units and Lt.
Teodorico Dominado of Dumaguete City was killed. Lt. Feliciano

86
Miravite was also hit directly in this encounter, causing his
paralysis.

On July 16, the 14th BCT was defending “Christmas Hill”


when the Communist Chinese forces renewed their attacks, which
had been repelled on the previous night. The enemy sustained
200 killed and 350 wounded in this action. “B” Company, on the
other hand, against whose area the main assaults had been
directed, suffered four men wounded.

On July 18, the CCF troops conducted psychological


warfare operations at Hill 500 on the Satae-ri front. With the use of
a loudspeaker, the Chinese announced and persuaded the
PEFTOK troops thus: “Go home! We are not your enemies”. The
announcement was followed by the screaming of “Banzai”. This
incident was repeated in Christmas Hill after midnight of July 22.
This was followed by cacophonous Chinese music accompanied
by the sounds of rifle and automatic fire. The show stopped only
after artillery fire from “A” Company sent the communists running
for cover.

Between the 24th and 26th of July, “A” Company received


around 500 rounds of enemy artillery shells everyday which
disrupted communications and supply lines. For three days, the
“Avengers” had to do with what they had and dug deep in their
foxholes. Meanwhile, news was heard that a truce was brewing up
at Panmunjon. In spite of this news, however, enemy fire
continued to increase, and reached its crescendo on the 27th. At
around 11 A.M. of that day, however, instructions were passed
along the OPLR and MLR to cease firing. Despite the order, the
PEFTOK artillery battery engaged the communist guns in all-out
duel. By 3 P.M., the hill in front of “A” Company, 14th BCT, was in
shambles.

At about 10 P.M., the entire battle front fell into a complete


silence. The following day, July 28, the 14th BCT dismantled its
fortifications, detonated its mines and rolled up the concertina
wires. On the next day, the battalion transferred to Yanggu Valley
where it set up a camp.

87
Those were the most significant engagements of the 14th
BCT in its year-long stint in Korea. Because of its record in the
front lines, the unit was awarded the Korean Presidential Unit
Citation on December 15, 1953. When it returned to the
Philippines in March 1954, it received the Philippine Presidential
Unit Citation, having successfully fulfilled the country’s
commitment to global peace and security.

After its return, the excess personnel of the 14th BCT were
distributed to the various Philippine Army units where their
services were most needed. It maintained its basic battalion
personnel in accordance with local conditions. Then it was thrown
into the anti-dissident campaign. Not long thereafter, it was
deactivated like the rest of its sister organizations which emerged
during the height of the government’s all-out offensive against the
Huk dissidents.

The 2nd Battalion Combat Team

It was formerly known as the 2nd Infantry Battalion


(Separate) which started combat operations against the dissidents
in 1946, when it was attached to the Military Police Command
(MPC), Philippine Arm. The 2nd Battalion Combat Team evolved
from the well-known United States Army Forces in the Philippines,
Northern Luzon (USAFIP, NL), and a guerilla unit under the
command of Col. Russell W. Volckman. From then on, although it
had undergone a lot of metamorphosis, it had been continuously
in the field except for a very short interval of relative inactivity. The
2nd BCT, then commanded by Col. Antonio de Veyra, was the last
unit to be sent to Korea. Its advance elements departed from the
Philippines in December 1954, while the main force left in April
1955.

In Korea, the 2nd BCT, known as the “Black Lions”,


undertook several combat exercises. One such exercise was the
“Chopper” Exercise, which involved hand-picked teams from
various companies of the battalion. These teams were delivered
behind enemy lines where they conducted swift raids, demolition
of bridges and ammunition dumps in enemy territory. After the

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quick operation, the team executed a quick get-away before the
enemy recovered from the surprise attack. The 2nd BCT was the
first AFP unit to undergo this kind of training, which utilized
helicopters, hence the nomenclature, “Chopper.”

The 2nd BCT stayed in Yanggu Valley for thirteen


uneventful months until it was overtaken by the armistice. On May
13, 1955, the 2nd BCT returned to the Philippines, welcomed with
the same glory accorded its predecessors. In the Philippines, the
unit was disbanded as a result of the ebbing Huk menace. Its
personnel were distributed to various Philippine Army units.

The end of the Korean War, however, did not mean the
end of the Army’s participation in foreign wars. For already, war
clouds were thickening in a country that was to eventually become
the focus of multinational effort to halt the communist advance in
Southeast Asia - Vietnam.

L to R: President Synman Rhee of South Korea pins a medal to Col.


th
Aguirre, 19 BCT, 4 Oct 1952 / A soldier hugs his mother upon re-
turning from a red camp, 1953 (National Library)

89
Chapter 4

PARTICIPATION IN THE VIETNAM WAR

Background

In the early part of the nineteenth century, the three


sections of Vietnam (Cochin-China, Annam, and Tongking) fell
under French rule through different formalities. Annam and
Tongking became French “protectorates” while Cochin-China
became a French colony completely.1 By 1940, however, there
had been a shift of rule- the French lost Vietnam to the Japanese.

By 1945, the Vietnamese had declared their independence


from both France and Japan. Ho Chi Minh, a Vietnamese
Communist leader and founder of the Vietminh, a resistance
movement also known as the Vietnam Independence League,
was declared president of the newly-established Democratic
Republic of Vietnam in the mountains of Tonkin.

After World War 11, France attempted to reaffirm her


control over the whole of Indochina. The Vietnamese resisted and
a ten-year war ensued from 1945 to 1954, in which Vietnam lost
thousands of its population and left the whole country in crisis.

As the French headed towards Dien Bien Phu, their mighty


fortress, for a final confrontation with the Communist forces, the
Great Powers (France, Great Britain, Russia and the United
Sates) met in Geneva, Switzerland, starting on April 26, 1954, to
decide on the Vietnam conflict.2 On May 7, 1954, Dien Bien Phu
fell to the valiant forces of General Von Nguyen Giap. The fall of
Dien Bien Phu was a coup de grace to French imperialism in Asia.
This significant event also ended the lengthy deliberation of the
Geneva Conference which lasted until July 21, 1954.

The agreement concluded in Geneva was an international


pact which declared that all hostilities would cease in Vietnam and
that France would recognize the independence of Vietnam. The
country was to be partitioned into two autonomous states, the

90
North and South, with the demarcation line along the 17th parallel.
The North was given over to the Vietminh government while the
South to remain under the French controlled Saigon government.3
Subsequently, the civilian population was granted a three-month
grace period, in which time those people living in the North who
wished to be under democratic rule were allowed to go south. This
international agreement, it was hoped, would end the eight-year
war.

Large-scale human movement, by air and sea, followed as


a result of Vietnam’s partition. The airlift which began on July 27
transported 800 people from Hanoi to South Vietnam. By August,
the daily sealift had evacuated a thousand others from Haiphong
to South Vietnam. By September, five thousand people had been
ferried by a hundred planes, while at the same time many
thousands more were sea lifted. Others crossed the border on
foot, in this exodus, which lasted several months. Nearly a million
Vietnamese from the North were transported to the South.

A great task for the Government of Vietnam lay ahead as a


result of the exodus- what to do with all these destitute and war-
torn people. The problem on how to feed and house all the
refugees was a heavy burden.

Operation Brotherhood

The Vietnamese refugees were in this deplorable state


when Oscar Arellano, then vice-president of the Junior Chamber
International for Asia, in one of his routine visits to Saigon, met his
Vietnamese counterparts and learned of the sad plight of the
Vietnamese people. Moved by this human agony, he set out an
all-out plan to assist the Vietnamese refugees. He wrote to all the
Junior Chamber organization enclosing and endorsing the appeal
for assistance of the Saigon Jaycees. He even entreated his own
Jaycee colleagues in Manila to do the same. To Arellano, it was a
ripe time to come to the aid of fellow Asians in time of need. But
the idea was not without opposition in Manila, so he decided to
take his case to the national federation of the Philippine Junior
Chamber. There, he found strong support from the outgoing

91
Jaycee president, P.E. Domingo, as well as from the incoming
president, Amelito Mutuc, who helped in carrying out the proposed
Vietnam Relief Project.

After deliberations on the matter in Manila, the resolution


was carried as a national enterprise with an executive committee
composed of Luis Ma. Araneta appointed as national chairman,
Donald Muni as treasurer, Benjamin Baluyut as press relations
officer, Federico Borromeo and Manuel Padua as coordinators for
Greater Manila and for the provinces, respectively. Afterwards, the
Vietnam Relief Project was given a new name: “Operation
Brotherhood”.

The campaign was divided into two phases. First, the


collection of food, medicines and other supplies for the
Vietnamese refugees in Hanoi, Haiphong, Hue, Saigon, and other
centers where they were relocated in. Second, the recruitment of
volunteer doctors and nurses to work for a specified time in the
relocation centers.

A number of Jaycee members responded enthusiastically


to Arellano’s appeal and decided to involve them in the project
with whatever help they could offer. Arellano, together with his old
friend Ramon Del Rosario, the first Asian president of the Junior
Chamber International (JCI), felt that their mission was incomplete
without the blessings of then President Ramon Magsaysay. They
felt that an accreditation was needed to support them morally,
even if the project was unofficial, to reflect a formal representation
of the Republic of the Philippines to the Republic of Vietnam for
the help the former was extending to its neighbor nation in
distress.

At first, President Magsaysay was critical of Operation


Brotherhood because the Philippines at the time were just
recovering from the ravages of World War II and the Huk rebellion.
He felt that the Filipino people should do their homework first
before extending help to a neighbor. But Arellano was
unwavering. He pursued his noble idea in Operation Brotherhood
relentlessly and after some time, convinced the president of his

92
grand idea. Far from dissipating Philippine resources, he stated
“to help a neighbor in need would establish the Philippine as a
leader in Asia and would be to the best interest of the country.”

Thereafter, a letter was drafted upon the direction of


President Magsaysay addressed to Premier Ngo Dihn Diem of
Vietnam informing the latter of the mission of Operation
Brotherhood. The letter stated that although there was no official
recognition of the Vietnam government by the Philippines, “this
should not prevent the Filipino people from expressing sympathy
with their neighbor in Vietnam and offering their help in an hour of
need.”

Arellano and del Rosario visited Premier Diem and


presented the letter as their credentials. The Premier was amazed
by the unexpected help the Philippines was extending, taking note
of the fact that the two countries had no diplomatic relations.
Premier Diem, in his first message to the outside world said, in
part 1, “in my capacity as President of the Free Government of
Vietnam, appeal to the free nations of the world, to religious and
civic organizations both local and international, to come to our
assistance in the darkest hour of our nation’s history.” The
government and the people of Vietnam appeal for assistance that
will aid in transportation, housing, feeding and hospitalization of
many of these weary and sick refugees who have voluntarily
chosen privation and suffering for the sake of the freedom.”

Immediately after President Magsaysay approved


Operation Brotherhood, the first formal announcement that the
Philippines would send a medical team of doctors and nurses was
made in Saigon on September 17, 1954. The day before, a verbal
agreement was reached by the Vietnam Jaycees, Vietnamese
government officials headed by Dr. Phang Huo Chuong, the
Minister of Health, and Arellano, representing the Philippine
Jaycees. It was agreed to regulate conduct of the Philippine
Medical Mission until it was replaced by a written contract a year
later.

Under this agreement, the Philippine Jaycees guaranteed

93
to do three things: 1) to recruit and send medical mission
composed of doctors and nurses, with supporting personnel; 2) to
provide their transportation to and from Vietnam; 3) to pay the
members of the mission a modest salary. The Vietnamese
government, for their part, guaranteed to provide the mission with
living quarters and transportation expenses. In addition, since the
Filipino spoke neither Vietnamese nor French, the Vietnamese
government agreed to provide and pay the salaries for
interpreters.

The first medical mission’s team leader was Dr. Antonio E.


R. Velasco, at that time JC president of Tacurong, Cotabato. With
him were Drs. Gloria Dumlao, Salome Remulla, Anacoreta
Pasamonte, Gloria Sena, Antonio Almazen, Jr., Paterno
Almendral, Jose Japson, Ernesto Medina and Vicente Villanueva.
This 10-man team was declared by President Magsaysay as a
special presidential program.

The team’s arrival in Saigon was greeted with warm


welcome by the Government of Vietnam. Their stay in Vietnam,
however, was not without problems. For instance, they were faced
with the problem of time, waiting two to three-hour siesta period
during work hours. Filipinos were not used to such long periods of
siesta and they looked at those three hours as a waste of time
instead of it being used for other more productive activities.
Another problem was the inconvenient villas that were supposed
to accommodate the team during their stay in Vietnam. They were
packed into the villas that were too small for comfort. Another
problem was a meager supply of gasoline allotted to the team for
its transportation to and from its quarters and its places of work.

Despite the inconveniences, however, the medical team


did a labor of love for the distressed refugees. They served in
hamlets and villages where diseases were rampant. They treated
patients around the clock, at times even risking their lives. In one
incident, their boat capsized on the Waico River after treating
patients across the river.

During the twenty-six months between October 1954 and

94
st
Arrival of OB’s 1 medical mission to Saigon, 1954
(Operation Brotherhood)

L to R: Crowds look in at window as Drs. Gloria Remulla and Victor


Villanueva prepare to receive patients/ Capt Jose Ramirez talks with
Gen Atienza outside the Tay Ninh Provincial Hospital. With them are
Dr. Lecon Truong, Director of Hospitals, and Lt. Apolonio F. de Jesus,
Jr., 2 December 1964. (Operation Brotherhood / National Library)

95
December 1956, the medical teams treated a total of 721, 379
patients in dispensaries and mobile clinics. In addition, they
attended to 7,862 more patients in hospitals and performed 5, 023
surgical operations. All in all there were 195 Filipino volunteers
who served in Vietnam under Operation Brotherhood.

The Philippines was not the only country involved in


Operation Brotherhood. Other Asian countries that also helped the
Vietnamese refugees were: Malaya, India, Hong Kong, Thailand,
Taiwan and Japan. Other forms of assistance and support came
from the Latin America, Great Britain, France, New Zealand,
Australia, Canada and the United States, making Operation
Brotherhood (quickly nicknamed “OB”) a truly international affair.

The First Philippine Contingent to Vietnam

Several years later, drawing inspiration from the success of


Operation Brotherhood, the Philippine government was prompted
to redouble the efforts for which this humanitarian project was
launched. As the situation in Vietnam worsened, a bill was
introduced in Congress in answer to a request for assistance from
the South Vietnamese government. At the time the request was
made, the number of refugees in Vietnam had more than doubled.
The social, economic and political situation became more
complicated.

This time, Ho Chi Minh, the Communist leader of North


Vietnam, was reelected president of the Democratic Republic of
Vietnam on July 15, 1960. He ordered the intensification of the
drive of mass terrorism and assassination by his Vietcong guerilla
forces. This drive was undertaken in compliance with his policy of
uniting the two Vietnams under his communist regime to pave the
way for an invasion of the Republic of Vietnam.

Viewed in this context, the Philippine Congress acted


quickly to pass the bill which proposed the sending of annual
teams of thirty four men each for civic action, psywar advisory
roles and medical teams to South Vietnam. On July 21, 1964, the
measure was enacted and signed into law by President Diosdado

96
Macapagal, as humanitarian commitment of the Philippines to a
distressed neighbor.

The implementation of Republic Act 4162 required General


Headquarters of the Armed Forces to lay down the criteria for the
selection of prospective members for the Philippine contingents to
Vietnam. Firstly, applicants had to pass the required written
examinations and proficiency tests. Then, they had to satisfy
other criteria, as follows: 1) an applicant had to be a graduate of
the Basic Course for Medical Officers; 2) he must not have
previously served in any capacity in South Vietnam; 3) he must
not be eligible for retirement during his period of assignment in
South Vietnam; 4) he must not have any pending case, either civil
or military; 5) he must not have any money or property
accountability case; 6) if married, must have the written consent of
his spouse.

The first batch of the Philippine Contingent to Vietnam


(PHILCONV) was composed of twenty-eight military personnel
and six civilians. The military men included sixteen line officers, all
captains, and two surgical/medical teams, each of which had two
medical officers/surgeons, two nurses and two non-commissioned
technicians. The composition of the civilian team included a
general practice doctor, a nurse, two technicians and two civic
action specialists. The line officers, all designated as
psychological warfare or civic action advisers were Captains
Renato R. Reyes (Inf); Jose P. Magno (Inf); Benjamin R. Vallejo
(Inf); Teodulfo S. Bautista (Inf); Ernesto L. Macadaeg (FA); David
R. Abundo Jr. (Inf); Romeo A. Solina (Inf); Renato A. Ecarma (Inf);
Manuel C. Ribo (Inf); Constante R. Quiaoit (Inf); and Agripino R.
De Guzman (Inf).

The Surgical/Medical Group and First Team Leader was


Captain Jose R. Almirez (MC), while the Second Team Leader
was First Lieutenants Apolonio B. Baroquillo (MC) were the other
two military surgeons with the teams. Assisting the four military
doctors were four operating room nurses namely: First Lieutenant
Violeta O. Untalan, Second Lieutenants Cristina dela Pena, Irene
P. Angeles and Marilex R. Nolasco, Technical Sergeant Julian M.

97
Decena, Staff Sergeant Wenceslao B. Macadaeg, Sergeant
Moises Y. Tiglao and Miguel H. Dimaculangan formed the enlisted
technicians.

After a series of briefings and lectures that constituted their


two-week preparatory training, the twenty-eight military volunteers
were given ceremonial send-offs with prayers and best wishes for
their safety and success. The members of the First PHILCONV
took off from Nichols Field (now Villamor Air Base), aboard a U.S.
Air Force plane in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). Within a few
days after their arrival and after familiarizing themselves with the
situation then prevailing in the country, the members of the
contingent were fielded within the III Corps Tactical Zone which
included the City of Saigon, the City of Cholon, the City of
Vungtau, and the provinces of Gia Dinh, Binh Duong, Bien Hoa,
Long An, Phuoc Tuy, Binh Long, Phuc Long and Long Khanh.

The members of the PHILCAGV arrived in South Vietnam


just in time for the “hop tac” or “oil spot” and “pica”, or pacification
operations which started on September 1, 1964. The contingent
was placed under the supervision and control of the Senior Armed
Forces of the Philippines Attaché in Vietnam, Colonel Jose V.H.
Banzon, who had considerable psychological warfare operations
exposure in Vietnam, Malaya, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and the
Philippines.

The “hop tac” or “oil spot” plan called for the gradual
spread of the pacification drive from Saigon. Hence, the initial
emphasis of the effort was in the III Corps. The psywar-civic action
officers were assigned singly to units operating with similar
missions in the region. Each adviser was on his own and in view
of the deficit of logistics at the time, each officer had to improvise,
beg or borrow, or modify his plans.

The surgical teams were assigned to operate at the


surgical suite at the Tay Ninh Provincial Hospital where there were
many civilian casualties. A retired U.S. Army officer, Col.
Edmundo Navarro, who was then the USAID provincial adviser

98
and General Le Van Tat gave the surgical teams all the support
they needed.4

As soon as the teams were fielded to their designated


places of duty, they urgently engaged themselves in fruitful
actions. They provided technical advice and assistance, par-
ticipated in planning, training and field operations and promoted
liaison between the Vietnamese military and civilian authorities
and between U.S. and foreign agencies on one hand, and field
units on the other.

They took part in building up resettlements and initiated


the development of hamlets and villages. This move was designed
to upset Vietcong propaganda and win the hearts and minds of
the masses. They encouraged and motivated the armed forces
and radiated optimism to everyone they had the chance to work
with.

The surgical teams in Tay Ninh were just as busy. Within a


span of nine months from August 1964 to May 31, 1965, they
performed 220 major and 322 minor surgical operations aside
from the 6,750 surgical consultations and treatments, for a total of
7,302 cases.

The team in Kontum handled 27,000 medical cases in the


same period aside from running a clinic for the police, teaching
nurses, giving English lessons and assisting other medical
missions in the country.5

Not only did the medical teams accomplish the noble task
of attending to large numbers of patients, but they also performed
their duties well. Decorations were soon won. Capt. David Abundo
Jr. and Capt. Benjamin Vallejo were awarded the Medal of Honor,
1st Class of Vietnam for participation in the operations in War
Zones A,B,C, and D, particularly in the Boi Loi Woods. Capts.
Agripino de Guzman and Rudy Yabut won the same medal for
distinguished work with the 5th Division of the Army of the Republic
of Vietnam (ARVN).

99
L - R: An officer looks into a prayer booklet given by relatives. / A soldier
bids farewell to son before leaving for South Vietnam, Sept, 1967.
(National Library)

Capt Alfeo Riller gives last minute instructions to Capt Juanito


Manalo, medical officer, before his team moves out on one of its
daily missions for peace and mercy. (National Library)

100
Awards / Commendations

Capt. Cesar Templo also won the same medal for


outstanding services with the 1st Army of the Republic of
Vietnam’s Psywar Battalion. Capt. Melchor dela Cruz was given
the Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star for participating in the III
Corps psywar and civic action planning and operations which
aimed at destroying the enemy in the Boi Loi Woods. Capts. Jose
Magno Jr., Constante A. Quaoit, Luis Ridad, and Manuel Ribo got
certificates of merit and appreciation for the work in Long An
which included the successful persuasion to surrender of one
enemy commander.

Given recognition for their good work with the 1st Psywar
Battalion were Capts. Eduardo Arciaga, Jacinto Galang, Angeles
Cabigao and Rudy Yabut and 1st Lt. Eusebio Mamaril.6 All surgical
and medical teams, as units, also won medals.

PHILCON I’s Accomplishments

It would be improper to ascribe accomplishments solely to


PHILCON civic action/psywar officers, since their operations were
always with the ARVN. The qualifying matter for these ac-
complishments was the recognition of PHILCON by the Republic
of Vietnam. The perceptible things that may be cited are:

1. Effective advisorship to ARVN counterparts


2. Active participation, planning and training of ARVN
teams for civil affairs and psy-war operations
3. Participation in ARVN civil affairs and psy-war
operations
4. Coordination and liaison with the Vietnamese military
and civil authorities, US and foreign aid agencies, relief agencies
for coordinated pacification effort in the selected target areas
5. Assistance to ARVN military and civilian agencies in the
establishment of refugee’s resettlement centers for civilians in
displaced in the areas of military operations
6. Development and exploitation of themes to counteract
Communist propaganda and agitation activities

101
7. Participation in the “Boi Loi” operations
8. Close coordination with the Vietnamese civil government
authorities in the implementation of the pacification drive, and
rendering technical advice and assistance to civil government
officials when needed
9. Distribution of relief goods to go out-of-the-way places
10. Hamlet and village community development work
11. Assistance in leaflet and poster information activities
12. Integration of PHILCON medical/surgical activities to
civic action and exploitation of the team’s psychological impact
over the population.
13. Bringing afflicted and sick people to PHILCON
medical/surgical teams for treatment.

Arrival of PHILCON II

To reinforce PHILCON I, another group, PHILCON II,


numbering 34 men, arrived in Vietnam on April 17, 1965. One
surgical team went to Kontum to relieve the civilian volunteer
medical team upon the expiration of their contract and therefore
had to return home. Another team was designated at My Tho
provincial hospital in the delta. The third team was stationed in
Binh Duong provincial hospital upon the request of the division
commander of the 5th ARVN, General Tran Thanh Phong.

The war became more intense and civilian casualties


began rising in proportion to the increase in hostile actions. In Hau
Nghia, for instance, where it was believed the Philippine
contingent would eventually be deployed in a larger scale, the
Filipino psywar-civic action officers focused particular attention.

PHILCON II’s Activities

Part of the thrust of the AFP Civic Action Officers was in


the ARVN Affairs and Psywar aspects. This assistance was
concentrated in the “Hop Tac” zone of III Corps, AVN, more
popularly known as “PICA” or “Pacification Intensification of
Critical Area.”

102
The pacification of the different war zones “A,” “B,” “C” and
“D” in the area involved generally three phases:

1. “Clear and Secure” Phase - Regular ARVN units were


assisted by the Philippine Military Civil Affairs and psywar teams
in their operations to destroy Vietcong forces.
2. “Consilidation” or “Follow-Up” Phase - Security was
passed on the Regional and Popular Forces (RF/PF) as Regular
Troops moved up to the next zone. Military and Civilian cadres
performed civil affairs and psywar operations to motivate the
population and to “separate them from the VC both physically and
ideologically.” The government in the area was re-established.
Reconstruction and rehabilitation agencies were operated.
3. Turn over to civilian agencies Phase- After a zone was
pacified and enemy infrastructure destroyed, security matters and
government were turned over to civilian agencies.

A special detail of highly qualified PHILCON officers


numbering to seven men was sent to Hua Nghia province to help
in the motivation and training of Regional Forces (RF) and Popular
Forces (PF) there, as well as to hold in the civic action and psywar
operations of the Hua Nghia Sector. Credit is due to PHILCON
officers for the construction of a Combat Reaction Firing Courses
at Duc Hoa, which was noted by the US RF/PF Detachment in
Vietnam as a model for all RF/PF training.

In the civic action and psywar roles, this detail was


responsible for the so-called “harelip program”, where children
congenitally afflicted by harelip, were given reparative surgery by
AFP surgical teams. Medical civic action and the distribution of
relief goods to destitute and out-of-the-way hamlets were also
done with the aid of Philippine medical people who volunteered to
go Hau Nhgia.

As regards the RF/PF Special Detail, the accomplishments


were the following:

1. Motivation training of PF companies.

103
2. Participation in training, planning and operation against
the Vietcong.
3. Relief work for RF/PF dependents as well as civilians in
hamlets and villages in Hua Nghia.
4. Participation in “road-clearing” operations.
5. Construction of “Individual Combat Reaction Firing
Courses” for the training of RF/PF troops.
6. Technical assistance to Sector and District Chiefs.
7. Reparative surgery of Harelip-afflicted children in
conjunction with PHILCON surgical teams.
8. Liaison and coordination with foreign relief agencies in
Saigon for the relief goods to the people of Hau Nghia, and their
distribution t the people.
9. Rural health medical service with the assistance of
PHILCON doctors.7

PHILCON III

On August 23, 1965, a new type of medical unit intended


to afford mobile medical help and limited surgical aid in the field
arrived in Vietnam. Composed of 15 psywar-civic action officers,
one surgical team of six men and two rural health teams, the third
assistance group was adopted as PHILCON III.

This sort of team was conceived in view of the experiences


of Operation Brotherhood a decade earlier when OB had proven
that a mobile clinic traveling from one place to another was shown
to be more effective than waiting and serving patients in a fixed
clinic. Since there was a scarcity of hospitals in the different
provinces of Vietnam, the medical team was a great help to the
population. Together with the psywar-civic action teams, the com-
bined efforts won the people’s confidence and made them turn
their backs on the communist forces. The Vietcong forces reacted
sharply to this special treatment being done by the medical teams,
and launched a night attack on Gia Tan Village, where a team was
then stationed, and overran it. Fortunately, the team was able to
escape to a neighboring village.

104
The Vietcong also attacked Gia Kiem village, spraying the
houses with bullets; they mortared Xuan Loc where the psywar
and medical team had bivouacked; they booby-trapped the stage
used in Tran Hung Dao village wher the teams were to have
come; they lobbed grenades at the sleeping team at Ben Cat,
missing and instead wounding seven RVN soldiers.8

One of these rural health teams deployed in the


headquarters of III Corps was an instant success. Led by Capt.
Alberto Soteco, the ream was initially employed to support the
newly-organized international joint psywar-civic action team
composed of ARVN, US, Korean and Philippine Officers. This joint
team had its first operation in Xuan Loc, Long Khan province,
where it operated for 15 days, The Soteco team had visited seven
hamlets by September 7, 1965, and nine days of action, had
treated 1,069 cases.

Capt. Soteco stated: “Medical assistance in the overall


effort of the international psywar team in Long Khanh can be said
to be the first major breakthrough in the psywar-civic action
success… it will go a long way in paving the way to win the trust
and confidence of the people.”

The team was assigned again to the Phu Giao district,


Binh Dong, after the team had rested for several days. They
treated 885 patients in four hamlets in one week. Capt. Soteco
wrote, “For the first time in their lives, doctors and nurses have
given them (Vietnamese) the type of medical care they had
always longed for. We could easily detect from their faces-the old
and the young alike - the happiness and comfort we brought to
them in our short sojourn in their hamlet”. These people, still living
in VC-controlled areas (two thirds of the province was in VC
hands) had to walk far and brave the intense heat of the sun and
traverse rough terrain infested with the VC mines and booby traps
just to be seen and treated by the medical team.”9

Another medical team headed by Capt. Benjamin


Campomanes was deployed in Bien Hoa province where it was
split into two teams to serve and cover a larger area. In eight

105
days, one team served five hamlets, treating 990 patients. The
other team treated the same number of patients in eight days in
eight hamlets.

To assist the 5th ARVN Division in its road-clearing project


in Highway 13, the two teams combined after they had rested and
refitted for two days. The combined team handled 942 cases in
nine days of operations, serving the Montagnard villages. The
team stayed in the place and made use of abandoned hospital in
An Loc because the province chief urged the team to remain
longer than had been planned. The town of An Loc became
famous for having witnessed the longest enemy attack and
bombardment during the Eastern invasion the previous year. The
hospital where Campomanes’ team was stationed was repeatedly
shelled even when it was jammed with patients.

One officer of the team wrote: “it is now an established fact


that the best civic action of immediate psychological effect is
medical civic action. In this particular situation where doctors are a
rarity whether they are Vietnamese or other nationalities, the
presence of doctors and nurses in the hamlets literally brings joy
to the Vietnamese masses. It was observed that the people have
great confidence in us. Our presence in the remote areas does not
only speak of or concern for their welfare but also elicits
confidence in their own government.”10

Because of the humanitarian aspect of the team’s mission


to the Vietnamese people, Maj. Gen. James Humphrey of USAID
and the AFP Surgeon General, both came to visit the team and
congratulated the members for the work well done. This time, the
team of Capt. Soteco moved on to Bao Trai in Hau Nghia, hotly
contested by the Vietcong forces making results on every side of
the ARVN division in Duc Hoa. Th Soteco team again upheld the
multinational psywar operations to which the Vietcong reacted like
mad dogs.

A battalion-size attack was launched by the VC against the


ARVN Ranger Battalion at nearby Duc Lap camp on October 27.
Heavy mortar fire met the team at Bao Trai, where the Vietcong

106
tried to pin down the accompanying ARVN armored unit. The
ARVN suffered 45 killed and 59 wounded in the attack, while the
Vietcong suffered 107 losses.

The Philippines Team, being the only medical team


available in the vicinity, was kept busy all night as the wounded
started pouring in. The team worked till noon the next day when
the last casualty was brought in.

On November 11, 1965, after the ARVN had taken position


to confront the elite Vietcong forces in Tai Tam in Binh Long
province, the Campomanes rural health team was airlifted to this
area to render medical services to the refugees flowing in from the
nearby Michelin rubber plantation.

The team members stationed themselves at the small town


dispensary and treated 534 patients in four days. In two weeks of
operations, they had treated a total 1,613 patients.

In an attempt to rescue and treat the wounded inside the


huge rubber plantation, Lt. Faraon, Sgt. Pablo Bararo and Cpl.
Gregorio Vasquez followed the 7th ARVN Regiments into the
plantation. Part of the ARVN unit and Faraon’s team were overrun
by the Vietcong on the night of November 22. If not for the
darkness, Faraon’s team might have been killed by the hostile
troops. They managed to elude the Vietcong and were rescued
the next day.

On November 27, the combat encounter in the plantation


reached its peak. Finding themselves the only medical team
around, the team treated the large outpouring of casualties for two
days. Campomanes recalled the encounter thus: “We were
awakened by continuous machine gun fire and mortar shelling not
far from our bivouac area. Inquiring from our American adviser, we
were told that Village 6 was under attack. Later, the sector lost
contact with the Regiment CP. The last we heard over the radio
was the voice of the American adviser, saying: “Bomb us, we will
die anyway.” He was calling for allied bombers to drops bombs
and the 1st Battalion was badly battered. The American adviser

107
and the regimental commander were killed. The sector head-
quarters was stripped of all available soldiers who rushed to the
rescue of the 7th.

About noon, the first casualties arrived by chopper, among


them were the two Americans wounded. A Vietnamese who was
hit on the head expired on arrival at the dispensary. There was
great confusion at the time because of the soldiers’ families who
swooped down on us looking for their kin. This day we treated a
wounded soldier who, by his papers and uniform, appeared to be
an ARVN soldier but who turned out to be a VC.11

PHILCON IV Absorbed by PHILCAGV

On April 25, 1966, PHILCON IV arrived, with seven


doctors, six nurses and seven enlisted men. Since the Vietnam
War raged unabated, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson called for
an enlarged commitment from his allies. A seven-nation summit
conference was held in Manila to resolve the Indochina conflict a
few weeks later. The issue of sending additional aid to Vietnam
became a controversy in the Philippines. Many were against the
idea and yet a multitude was willing to volunteer for the cause. By
May 1966, the Philippine Congress ratified a proposal to send to
Vietnam an enlarged unit composed of civic action personnel.

The new contingent, dubbed the Philippine Civic Action


Group (PHILCAG), numbered more than 2,000 officers and men
and designed to engage not only in medical and psy-war action
but also in construction projects. The PHILCAG was a unique unit
of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and was activated and
organized on July 14, 1966 with Gen. Gaudencio Tobias at the
helm. The unit was specifically tasked to implement the provisions
of Republic Act 4664 which extended increased aid to the
Republic of Vietnam in the form of engineering, civic action and
other socio-economic and technical endeavors calculated to
improve the living conditions of the Vietnamese people in the
areas recovered from Communist control.

The 1st PHILCAGV was an amplification of the unpreten-

108
A Philcag doctor checks on the condition of a girl patient, 10 Dec 1966.
(National Library)

109
tious help first rendered by Philippine Contingents under RA 4162,
approved on July 21, 1964. The reason for Congress decision to
increase the Filipino commitment in Vietnam was clearly stated in
the preamble of RA 4664, and the national sentiment regarding
Philippine assistance to Vietnam was crystallized in this statement
by President Ferdinand E. Marcos:

“If we send engineers to Vietnam, this will be


because we choose to act on the long-held convictions of
the Filipino people; that the option for liberty must be kept
for every nation, that our own security requires that
democracy be given the chance to develop freely and
successfully in our own part of the world.”

In accordance with these statements of national policy, the


1st PHILCAGV was given the basic mission to “render civic action
assistance to the Republic of Vietnam by construction,
rehabilitation and development of public works, utilities and
structures, and by providing technical advice on other socio-
economic activities.” The unit’s main thrusts would be in the areas
of constructions, medical, dental and civic action assistance. In
addition, in cases of enemy attack, the unit was to defend itself.
With the combined forces of other friendly allies, this self-defense
function was heightened. The major subordinate units of the 1st
PHILCAGV were a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, an
Engineer Construction Battalion, a Station Hospital, a Logistical
Support Company, a Field Artillery Battery and a Security
Battalion.

The first detachment of the unit to go to Vietnam was a


team of three officers under Capt. Francisco Gatmaitan, the unit’s
engineering officer, which was sent on July 28, 1966 to survey in
and out of the proposed Philippine Base Camp in Tay Ninh
province. An Advance Planning Group of one hundred officers and
men led by Maj. Fidel V. Ramos, the group’s G-3, joined the
survey team on August 16, 1966. The team was given the task of
coordinating with the several Vietnamese and US military
agencies involved in the reception, transport and support of the 1st
PHILCAGV. Together with this batch were three Civic Action

110
Teams which introduced the medical-dental scheme to help the
Vietnamese people in the hamlets, with the aim of developing
popular acceptance of the Philippine effort in Tay Ninh. These
teams treated an average of 2,000 patients per week in various
hamlets and villages in Tay Ninh during the seven-week period
prior to the arrival of the main body of the 1st PHILCAGV. To
further build on the demonstrated success of these Civic Action
Teams in winning the friendship of the masses, two additional
Civic Action Teams were conditionally integrated with the Group.

A third group consisting of sixty drivers, maintenance


specialists and cooks under the leadership of Capt. Jose M.
Lizardo, the Group’s Public Affairs Officer, was deployed on
September 9, 1966. With the arrival of its National Commander,
Brig. Gen. Gaudencio V. Tobias, and his staff on September 14,
the 1st PHILCAGV became firmly established in Vietnam.

A group of nurses, doctors and artillerymen arrived in


Vietnam on September 26, 1966, led by Col. Ceferino Carreon,
the Deputy Commander of 1st PHILCAGV. They traveled by air
from Manila to Tay Ninh via Saigon. Two surgical teams of this
group were deployed to the provincial hospitals of Dinh Tuong, at
My Tho City, and Binh Dong at Phu Cuong, and a rural medical
team was sent to Bao Trai, the capital of Hau Nghia province. On
October 1, 1966, on orders of the Chief of Staff, AFP, the twenty
doctors, nurses and medical technicians of the former PHILCOM
were turned over to the administration and operational control of
the National Commander, 1st PHILCAGV.

Under the then existing Military Working Arrangements


signed on July 20, 1966 (the Mata-Westmoreland Arrangement)
by the Republic of the Philippines and the United States and the
Mata-Tam Agreements signed on August 3, 1966 by the Republic
of the Philippines and the Republic of Vietnam, the 1st
PHILCAGV was under the command and control of its National
Commander, but the Group’s duty and projects were set by a
Free World Assistance Policy Council (FWAPC), composed by
the Chief of the Joint Staff, Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces,

111
who was chairman, and the National Commander, United States
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (USMACV).

The 1st PHILCAGV Base Camp was located alongside that


of the US 196th Light Infantry Brigade which, together with its
parent unit, the US 25th Infantry Division, had been of tremendous
assistance to the development and defense of the Group.12

Personnel of the 1st PHILCAGV

The 1st PHILCAGV’s strength was 183 officers and 1,882


enlisted men, or an aggregate of 2,064. This included thirteen
officers and seven enlisted men formerly of PHILCON IV who
were absorbed on October 1, 1966. Because of the nature of the
mission of this unit and its area of employment, there was a
continuing command emphasis to provide the personnel much
needed morale and welfare services. The health f the Group was
excellent, gauged from the average daily rate of non-effectives of
only 0.42 percent. Emphasis was also placed on measures to
prevent unfavorable incidents which would prejudice the Filipino
image of identity. To this end, personnel were required to obey
local laws and regulations and to respect the customs of the
people. For maximum utilization of personnel, the effective
strength of any subordinate unit was never allowed to go below 85
percent insofar as passes, Rest and Recreation (R & R) and
leaves were concerned.

Logistics

The logistics support of the 1st PHILCAGV was governed


by the RP-US Military Working Arrangements. The US logistical
resources in Vietnam were capable to supporting all standard
supply items as required by the unit, including maintenance
support. The PHILCAGV soldier received identical rations as the
American G1; aside from the rice ration received from Vietnamese
supply channels. US evacuation and medical facilities, including
an organic Station Hospital, which were available to the 1st
PHILCAGV were excellent. Logistics-wise, 1st PHILCAGV was, on
the whole, well-provided for.

112
Comptrollership

1st PHILCAGV spent funds within its obligated authority as


prescribed by GHQ, AFP. Strict controls were established among
the personnel to ensure that they did not violate Vietnamese
currency laws and regulations. The Chief of Staff, AFP, through
the AFP Comptroller, exercised overall control of the appropriated
funds for 1st PHILCAGV. This function was passed down to the
Commanding General, PHILCAGV, through his Comptroller. Since
these funds were available for expenditures both in the Philippines
and Vietnam, a section in the Office of the AFP Comptroller
performed the control functions in the Philippines. Expenditures in
Vietnam were funded by obligated authority and controlled by the
Comptroller, 1st PHILCAGV.

This set-up presented a command problem. While the


Commanding General, 1st PHILCAGV, was responsible for the
overall Project Administration of funds appropriated under RA
4664 for the support of 1st PHILCAGV pursuant to Fiscal Directive
67-1, GHQ, AFP, dated 16 July 1966, he was not able to exercise
control over this fund except for those amounts for disbursement
in the Republic of Vietnam. This inhibited him from effectively
planning and/or prosecuting programs from that required funding.
He did not have the opportunity to participate in projected plans or
projects at the GHQ, AFP level which affected 1st PHILCAGV.

Significant Accomplishments of 1st PHILCAGV

Significant gains were achieved in developing acceptance


by the Vietnamese people of the Philippines assistance in
Vietnam and in helping amplify and strengthen government control
over the Group’s designated areas of duty within a short span of
five months since the entry of 1st PHILCAGV elements in Vietnam.
Of equal importance also was the enthusiastic response and
humanitarian work that the Group initiated. A fitting example of
this was the opening up of Than Dien forest, which had been a
Vietcong fortress for the last fifteen years, and which, by
December 1, 1966, had became the site of a refugee resettlement
project undertaken by the group. Within a short period of six

113
weeks, despite frequent Vietcong resistance, a network of roads
was constructed in the area making it possible for a considerable
number of Tay Ninh residents to earn a profitable livelihood by
reviving the wood-cutting and charcoal-making industry which had
long been inactive because of Vietcong activities.

The significant accomplishments of the unit were the


following:

1. Production and distribution of more than 80,000


Vietnamese leaflets containing the text of RA 4664 (the Aid to
Vietnam Bill), with an explanation of the presence of PHILCAGV in
Vietnam and its humanitarian missions as prescribed by the act.
2. Provision of medical, surgical and dental treatment to
more than 96,000 people in the province of Tay Ninh, Binh Duong
and Hau Nghia.
3. Establishment of direct, people-to-people contact in 48
hamlets of Tay Ninh province in the course of conducting medical-
dental civic action and the distribution of 3,480 school classroom
kits, 6,000 sets of toys, 56, 400 pounds and 1, 310 tons of
assorted foodstuffs, and 436 health and maternity kits.
4. Establishments of a Base Camp which included more
than ten kilometers of roads, lighting and sanitary facilities, 350
protective bunkers, 150 tents and assorted structures, and other
defense and administrative installations.
5. Establishments of a defense system in the Tay Ninh
Base Camp to secure vital installations and to afford adequate
protection to each individual soldier from enemy attack including
the 82MM mortar, which was the largest caliber weapon available
to the Vietcong in the area at the time. This defense system of the
Vietnamese and American forces in Tay Ninh, including
immediately available artillery, air and other types of combat
support.
6. Erection of two schoolhouses, one at Soui Mon and
another at Tam Hap hamlets: the repair of four kilometers of
roads; the rehabilitation of one Catholic chapel and one market
place; the repair of two schoolhouses; the donation of school
playground equipment and installation of one pitcher water pump.
7. 62 percent completion of an extensive 35-kilometer road

114
repair and construction project in the Long Hoa area, which was
the most populous portion of Tay Ninh province at that time.
8. Causing the surrender of four Vietcong, one on
November 7, another on December 21, 1966 and two on January
11, 1967, by winning them through friendly approaches by
elements of the command. The goodwill generated by the group’s
personnel through civic action projects among the people of Tay
Ninh won multitudes of friends for the unit and for the Filipino
people, and continued to result in additional surrenderees from the
Vietcong.
9. Active support of the Republic of Vietnam’s Chieu Hoi
(Open Arms) program, a policy of attraction directed towards the
Vietcong, by providing regular medical and dental assistance to
the Chieu Hoi center in Tay Ninh. Seven Vietcong returnees also
underwent technical training with the unit in the operation of heavy
engineer equipment, thus helping to convert them into useful
citizens.
10. Reception and briefing of an average of five VIP
groups of various nationalities per week. Each of these visiting
groups was provided written information and statistical data on
PHILCAGV’s mission and activities.13

Operation Climax

Operation Climax included all activities undertaken in


anticipation of the relief of the list of PHILCAGV from Vietnam.
Through a massive and final-lap civic action program, the
Vietnamese people became aware of the sincerity of the Filipino’s
response to the request of the government of Vietnam for
assistance. It was also a complementary effort to prepare the
soldier and the unit for an orderly withdrawal from Vietnam.

Operation Climax was also given to the task of finishing all


projects that PHILCAGV had started. Participants of Operation
Climax made final repairs on the retouched projects that were
almost completed. It was also designed to prepare the members
of PHILCAGV to return to the Philippines and to allow and orderly
turn-over of equipment and the base camp to the 2nd PHILCAGV.

115
The objectives of Operation Climax were the following (14):

1. To create a lasting impression of goodwill by maximizing


the impact of civic action projects;
2. To make the Vietnamese people feel that the Filipino
people/soldiers were genuinely interested in their welfare and
well-being;
3. To motivate, develop people’s initiative and self-reliance
in improving their home and community lives by advising to
support them in self-help projects;
4. To ensure orderly withdrawal/relief of 1st PHILCAGV
from the Republic of Vietnam.14

PHILCAV Replacement Unit (PRU)

The PHILCAGV Replacement Unit (PRU) had been


provisionally organized at Fort Magsaysay as early as September
1967. It was to undertake civic action and other environmental
improvement programs to promote the welfare of the Vietnamese
people. Minimal intelligence was needed to maintain the unit
because if it’s non-combatant or defensive character. However, it
required that commanders and staffs at all echelons should know
not only the tactical ingredients of intelligence but also such
intangibles as the psychology of the Vietnamese people and
government officials, the local socio-economic situation, Vietcong
political and psychological objectives and other facts, that would
not normally be required to maintain a combat mission, but which
could heighten the accomplishment of civic action intentions. To
meet the diverse intelligence support conditions, the intelligence
tasks that had to be reached, therefore, were manifold.

Part of the PRU’s mission was the implementation of the


civic action plan, “Pag-asa”. The plan was grouped into four
distinct programs:

1. Engineer Civic Action Program (ECAP). This program


undertook major construction and rehabilitation or improvement
projects of various public works such as roads, culverts and
grounds improvements; building bridges and other structures and

116
utilities in the maintenance of the Development Program of the
South Vietnamese government, particularly in the province of Tay
Ninh. These were long range, strong effect scheme planned to
create a lasting source of goodwill.
2. Medical and Dental Civic Action Program (MIDICAP).
Members of the Medical / Dental Team Program were assigned to
My Tho, Bao Trai, Phu Kuong and Tay Ninh City. They were sent
to these places to increase the professional staff and help in the
training of medical and nursing aides. From July 1, 1968 to
November 30, 1969 the MEDICAP operations treated 1,110,356
medical patients, 51, 927 surgical patients and 371,788 dental
patients, for a total of 1, 534,071 patients in sixteen months.
3. Miscellaneous Environmental Improvement Program
(MEIP). Under this program were projects meant to complete the
rural development program of the Republic of Vietnam. It included
the construction of refugee centers for persons who were
banished or rendered homeless, especially those who were
victims of Vietcong raids and attacks; the establishment of a
demonstration farm planted with the new Philippine Miracle Rice;
the imparting of professional help in the training of hospital staffs,
attendants and rural health workers, the teaching of rural people
personal sanitation through the construction of sanitary toilet
bowls; the clearing of forests to serve as sites for model
communities; the putting up of experimental piggery and poultry
projects; and other activities to improve community facilities.
4. PHILCAGV-to-People Program (PPP). To help the
people of selected villages attain a better way of life, PPP, as a
special civic action effort using the excess or idle resources of
company-size units, was implemented. The scheme was aimed at
winning the hearts and minds of the populace. They were
undertaken on a self-help basis with stress on activities that
afforded maximum benefits to and participation by the people.

PHILCAGV was a unique unit of the AFP on a mission of


peace and mercy to help the other Free World Forces in their joint
commitment to assist the Vietnamese people in the preservation
of freedom and human dignity. Its personnel management and
administration was geared towards enhancing the competent use
of manpower in conformance with the following principles:

117
1. Place the right man on the right job through efficient
classification and careful assignment;
2. Capitalize on the individual’s intelligence, aptitudes and
interests through training;
3. Stimulate the individual’s desire to contribute to the
group’s goal through adequate incentives;
4. Ensure individual opportunity for professional develop-
ment through intelligently planned and progressive rotation of
assignments;
5. Utilize fully the individual in essential tasks.

All members of the Command were volunteers, and thus


may be considered to be cross-section of the higher-than-average
officers and men from the different major services and separate
officers of the AFP. The morale of the Command had always been
high. This was the result of superior leadership, influence and
direction of the officers, who elicited their subordinate’s
obedience, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation. As a
consequence, high morale existed despite physical exhaustion,
hardship, privation and self-sacrifice on the part of the troops.15

Accomplishments

The PRU accomplished the following in its tour of duty in


Vietnam:
1.Communicated and coordinated with friendly intelligence
agencies, local police agencies, and with local government
officials;
2. Collected and processed 6, 514 information reports;
3. Screened and cleared 287 Vietnamese civilian for
employment inside the PHILCAGV Base Camp.
4. Conducted two security education seminars and lectures
for all members of the Command.
5.Conducted intelligence briefings and disseminated
intelligence reports, briefings and other intelligence documents.
6. Conducted on security survey and three security
inspection of all units and officers of the command;

118
7. Conducted six investigations involving PHILCAGV
personnel;
8. Continued to provide early warning of planned hostile
action against PHILCAGV at the various worksites and at the
Command’s Base Camp; and
9. Undertook continuing assessment of the reaction of the
Vietnamese people toward the civic action efforts of the
PHILCAGV.

On December 9, 1969, PHILCAGV elements were turned


over to US Area Coordinator, Major. Gen Hollis, in front of 2,000
local people.

L to R: A young Vietnamese boy gives the “thumbs up”” sign to show


approval of PHILCAG’s mission in his country / H.E. Luis Moreno,
Philippine Ambassador to South Vietnam, pins the Presidential Citation
badge to the PHILCAG banner as Brig. Gen. Tobias and troops stand at
attention, 1967. (National Library)

It was not an end, but rather was the dawning of a better


relationship in Vietnam. The fruits of the Command appeared to
be pronounced physically, but these were merely the outward
signs of the contribution of PHILCAGV on the Vietnamese people
that was probably too deep to be calculated exactly. No one could
say how much effort the Filipinos had given to the Vietnamese
population. One can only say truly that one will know his true
brothers in an hour of need. PHILCAGV tried to provide
assistance during the South Vietnamese people’s hour of need.

119
Formation at PHILCAGV Headquarters. (PA Museum)

Lt. Rolando C. Escalona inspects a building construction in Tay


Ninh, South Vietnam. (PA Museum)

120
Chapter 5

INSURGENCY IN THE SIXTIES

Background

The sixties were characterized by the phenomenal growth


of student and labor organizations and the resurgence of
communist activities. The New People’s Army (NPA), the military
arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, gained momentum
in the rural areas, as well as the urban centers of the country. The
period also saw the birth of the secessionist movement primarily
led by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Mindanao.
Although these groups comprised only a small minority of the
entire population, they advocated sweeping changes and the
overthrow of the government.

The Senate Ad Hoc Committee Report on Central Luzon


revealed the intensification of communist activities. The report
stressed that the years following 1963 saw the successive
emergence in the country of several mass organization, notably
the Lapiang Manggagawa (now the Socialist Party of the
Philippines) among the workers; the Malayang Samahan ng mga
Magsasaka (MASAKA) among the peasantry; the Kabataaang
Makabayan (KM) among the youth/students and the Movement for
the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) among intellectuals and
professionals.

Genesis of Student Activism

Student activism can be traced back to the “Juventud


Escolar Liberal” founded in 1869 at the University of Santo Tomas
- the first student association to discuss national issues. The same
association criticized the government with the establishment of a
constitutional monarchy in Spain in 1870. The movement was
suppressed by the oppressive new regime. Nevertheless, the
students remained unwavering in their struggle for reforms.

At the outset of the American administration in the 1900s,

121
the students became more active. This time they associated them-
selves with organizations clamoring for the grant of independence.
As a result, the Philippine Commission enacted the Sedition Law
banning Filipinos from espousing independence. Despite the
government’s imposed restraints, around twenty demonstrations
were recorded from 1901 to mid-thirties. Considered as the more
active organization was the “Associacion Escolar de Filipinas” that
was an inter-alumni association, which later merged with the
Nacionalista Party.

Mass protest activities intensified during the American


period. In July 1918, Carlos Romulo, led the first student
demonstration at the University of the Philippines. The issue was
the exclusion of Filipinos from the presidency of the State
University. However, the biggest recorded demonstration took
place on July 12, 1931 when about 250,00 students and youths
gathered in front of the Legislative Building to ask for the grant of
independence. The same year, the first violent demonstration
occurred when the students of Cebu High School stoned their
building to protest the policies of their principal.

However, communist interest in the student movement


started way back in the 1930s, immediately after the formation of
the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Realizing the
idealism of the youth, Communist Party leaders began recruiting
student leaders for party work. But it was only in the fifties that the
effort to infiltrate and subvert the studentry resulted in the
formation of several communist dominated youth organizations.
At this time, however, there were only occasional rallies primarily
directed against congressional back pay and parity rights.

After the war, more student organizations were formed. To


influence the student movement, the communists infiltrated the
National Student Movement for Democracy, a federation of the
College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEG), Student Councils
Association of the Philippines (SCAP). The leaders of these
groups initially bolstered Ramon Magsaysay’s bid for presidency.
This participation came in the wake of the desire to obtain
concessions from the government. As a result, leftist-oriented or-

122
ganizations were temporarily relegated to the background.

In 1957, the Kataas-Taasang Katipunan ng Kabataang


Pilipino (KKKP) composed of selected students advocating
socialism emerged. The communist hierarchy hoped to employ
KKKP members as propagandists for agitation and propaganda.1
However, these organizations failed to gain adequate support
from the students and consequently faded away.

As the socialist-oriented student organizations faded from


the scene in the late 1950s, the Student Cultural Association of
the Philippines (SCAP) emerged in November 1960, largely
through the efforts of Jose Maria Sison and Heherson Alvarez.

Not long after, the Kabataaang Makabayan (KM) was


organized by Jose Ma Sison with the Lapiang Manggagawa or
Workers Party of the Philippines under Jesus Lava as its nucleus.
The KM was launched formally on November 30, 1964, the birth
anniversary of the Great Plebeian, Andres Bonifacio. Supreme
authority in the KM was vested in the National Congress, the
National Council formulated KM policies and in-between the
meetings of the National Council while the Executive Board made
the decisions.

In the mid-sixties, most of the communist influenced


student organizations claimed nationwide membership but their
members were concentrated in Greater Manila and some
chartered cities. The organizations were also aligned according to
the factionalism of the Communist Party of the Philippines which
again developed in the early part of 1967. From 1964 to 1969, a
total of 74 student rallies were recorded.

During the period, it could be stated that activism in the


Philippines was also influenced by the worldwide student move-
ment. It was a reflection of the growing impatience of the youth for
change in the status quo. The tactics used by local demonstrators
were derived from those adopted by the student movements in the
United States, Latin America and Europe. The issues they raised
centered basically on reforms and the alleviation of the plight of

123
the masses.

Unfortunately, communist succeeded in influencing the


student ferment. Thus, the use of communist jargon, inflammatory
and seditious language and character assassination became
salient aspects of student-led mass protest activities.

In education, the students raised the issues of lower tuition


fees, freedom of the campus press, autonomy of the student
councils, recognition of student rights and competence of the
faculty. On the other hand, the political issues were graft and cor-
ruption, compartmentalized justice in favor of the rich, inadequate
implementation of laws and the credibility gap between leaders of
the government and the people. The wide gap between the rich
and the poor, the floating rate of the peso, the increasing prices of
basic commodities, low wages, unemployment, housing, and
peace and order were issues also raised by the students during
rallies and demonstrations.

Student rallies also focused on the sending of Filipino


troops such as the PHILCAGV to Vietnam, the Corregidor incident
concerning the massacre of some Muslim trainees, President
Marcos’ visit to the United States and US President Lyndon
Johnson’s attendance at the Summit Conference in Manila to
resolve the Vietnam conflict.

Among the student or youth organizations, the Kabataang


Makabayan (KM) played the leading role. During the period, it
adopted strategies and tactics designed to counter government
measures and information campaigns. The incarceration of its
leaders did not discourage KM members from pursuing their
goals. With renewed determination, they gained sympathizers
through teach-ins, cell meetings and discussion groups. The most
effective politicalization program adopted by the Kabataang
Makabayan was the use of media primarily through television
programs where they were freely heard and watched by
thousands. Several major demonstrations were also spearheaded
by this organization.

124
On December 26, 1968, Sison, who supposedly re-
linquished the Chairmanship of the KM to Nilo Tayag, took charge
as the Chairman of the re-established CPP. Timed with Mao’s 75th
birth anniversary, Sison and other Maoists in the old CPP
convened a so-called “Congress for the Re-establishment of the
Communist Party of the Philippines” signaling a formal break up
from the old party. Earlier, intelligence operations were able to
gather valuable information about the KM, particularly its internal
troubles spawned by Antonio Araneta Jr and Jose Ma.Sison’s
struggles for leadership. Vital information for the battle of
supremacy between students of the University of the Philippines
and Lyceum of the Philippines were also unearthed.

By March 1969, Jose Ma Sison succeeded in negotiating


an agreement with a band of second generation Hukbong
Magpalaya ng Bayan (HMB) under Bernabe Buscayno (alias
Commander Dante) resulting in the formation of the New People’s
Army. It was also during the year that the KM members introduced
the use of Molotov cocktails during demonstrations in front of the
US Embassy in December 29 of the same year. Not long after,
other KM chapters developed the pillbox which proved more
destructive than the Molotov cocktail.

In the late sixties, it was also reported that the CPP had
established local chapters in Mindanao. During this time, the CPP
recorded 258 major demonstrations of which thirty-three were
violent and wherein fifteen persons died and 540 others were
injured. Military reports disclosed that practically all the violence in
1970 was instigated by KM members.2

Army intelligence summaries revealed that from April 1 to


15, KM Holy Week activities in 1969 consisted of recruitment and
indoctrination in the provinces. From July 1 to 15, 1970, the KM
was busy consolidating its influence in the campus through school
newspapers and student governments. In the latter part of July
1970, the KM-SDKs started “Nursery Training for Future Activists,”
a school teaching Mao’s thoughts and other national issues to
children aged 5 -12 years old.

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Originally conceived as the vanguard of the national youth
movement, the KM emerged as the most militant of youth
organizations. The KM initiated demonstrations, rallies and strikes
totaling to 85 in 1969 and to about 300 in 1970.

Mass organizations were classified according to their


leanings of proven sympathies into labor, peasants, professionals,
students and others. Those suspected as fronts were as follows:
for labor, Socialist party of the Philippines (SPP); for peasants,
Malayang Samahan ng Magsasaka (MASAKA); for professionals
and intellectuals, Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism
(MAN) and for the youth and students, Kabataang Makabayan
(KM).

Subversion of Labor and Professional Groups

By the end of 1966, there were about 2,000 labor unions


with 750,000 members, foremost of which was the Malayang
Samahan ng Magsasaka (MASAKA) which was organized in
1964. However, military findings disclosed that this organization
was the main peasant front of the Communist Party of the
Philippines (CPP). This peasant organization emerged with land
reform as its rallying point. The year before President Macapagal
signed the Agricultural Land Reform Code (RA No 3844) into law,
replacing the share tenancy system with the leasehold system.
Moreover, the MASAKA was organized from the national level to
the barrio council, based on the principle of so-called “democratic
centralism.”

MASAKA figured in several mass actions led by Maoist


student organizations. It had about 20,000 members distributed
among its eleven (11) chapters in the provinces of Nueva Ecija,
Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bataan, Quezon, Zambales,
Isabela, Pangasinan and La Union and was also influential in
Cagayan.

Of the professional/intellectual organizations, Movement


for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) was the most active,
prominent and outspoken. 3 Originally, MAN was an attempt to

126
bring together the most articulate nationalists among the different
sectors of the population. Its founders were then Senator Lorenzo
Tañada, then Congressman Ramon Mitra, Domingo Castro, Jose
Ma. Sison, Felixberto Olalia and Jose Lansang, Sr. In the 1960s,
MAN claimed a total of 382 chapters.

The important subversive activities of the CPP can be


grouped into the following: creation of front organizations,
infiltration of government agencies, political indoctrination,
recruitment, agitation and propaganda.

The prevailing economic situation was another factor


raised in these subversive activities. This was easily manipulated
by labor and professional groups against the government. With
the country’s unhealthy state of economy, the local leaders tried to
stir unrest by straining labor management relationships by staging
paralyzing strikes in government owned corporations. Similar
strikes were staged in private enterprises which include among
others: the La Mallorca-Pambusco Transportation Company and
the Philippine Herald Company. These labor leaders were active
in the political front and founded the Lapiang Manggagawa (LM).

During the period, the CPP Maoists also successfully


infiltrated labor unions and federations. Suspected as labor fronts
for Maoist groups were the Katipunan ng mga Samahang
Manggagawa (KASAMA) which was composed of splinter groups
like the National Association of Trade Unions (NATU), Progressive
Workers Council (PWC) while the traditional oriented labor groups
were the Confederation of Trade Unions in the Philippines
(CTUP), Union Impresores de Filipinas (UIF) and the
Pambansang Kilusan sa Paggawa (KILUSAN).

Despite the fact that the CPP had made gains in its
infiltration activities, there were contributory factors which led to
the failure of the communists to hold their influence over the
workers. These factors included among others the improvement of
the economic conditions of the workers and effective public
information campaign of the government.

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Combat Effectiveness

In response to the insurgency of the sixties, the Army was


called upon to perform its share of responsibility. Per AFP defense
plans of the period, all combat forces of the Army continued
training in both conventional and unconventional warfare. It
maintained the Special Forces units in order to develop small units
capable of meeting the challenge of the local communities. To
maintain a state of combat readiness, field exercises, maneuver
and assembly tests were held by the Philippine Army.

In the mid-sixties, in consonance with its combat


readiness, the Army established fifteen (15) intelligence stations in
critical areas, nine (9) of which were equipped with Single Side
Band (SSB) transceiver sets. It covered labor strikes, rallies and
demon-strations and also performed security service and
inspections. Further, it intensified its intelligence operations
regarding the dissidents, piracy, gun running and other forms of
lawlessness, as well as against the PKP-HMB, student and
intellectual organizations and labor movements.

With the intensification of the Army’s intelligence efforts,


the various programs of the dissidents were monitored, thus
blocking their organizational and extension activities. CPP plans in
Manila in the late sixties were also unearthed. Among these plans
were the organization of the masses, liquidation of capitalist
establishments and the kidnapping of foreign dignitaries.

With the upsurge of insurgency posed by dissidents in the


60s, contingency measures designed to meet enemy threats were
incorporated in the Military’s Five-Year Strategic Capabilities Plan.
During this period, a new defense concept giving Luzon and
Mindanao equal importance made imperative the creation of a
unified command to protect these two strategic areas.

In 1961, all military areas began conducting intensive and


extensive training for reservists. During its first year, a total of 156
officers and 2,976 trainees completed the prescribed course. A

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total of 118 ROTC units in operation during the year trained 7,071
Basic and 1,936 Advanced ROTC cadets.

Prosecuting the anti-dissident drive in the sixties, the 1st


Infantry (TABAK) Division conducted an exercise for the defense
of vital installations in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. During the
months that followed, the Army also conducted amphibious
exercise in Bitulok, Nueva Ecija. The II Military Area, 2nd Infantry
(JUNGLE FIGHTER) Division conducted BCT Exercises
codenamed “Pagsasanay” in Mabitac, Pililia area and Exercises
“Cabetex” in Cavite-Batangas area. Not long after, the III Military
Area/5th Infantry Division likewise conducted Exercise “Babac” in
Cebu and Exercise “Panay” in the Capiz-Aklan area.

Small unit tactical exercises were also held in Tarlac and


Pampanga by the 1st Infantry Division and the 3rd Infantry Division,
PA. Corollary, the Army launched other exercises, the CPX
“Sanay” at Alabang, Muntinlupa, Rizal and BCT Task Force Field
Exercise in Central Luzon.

With the assumption of Ferdinand E Marcos to the


presidency in 1965, units of the Army, Air Force and the Navy
participated in Exercise “Siyasat” and “SM PODX-35,” a SEATO
exercise hosted by the Philippines. Army units also took part in
Exercise “Eagles Nest III” a joint RP-US special exercise.

Generally, these active measures were classified into two,


namely: denial and counter insurgency operations. Under the
denial operation, the objective was to deny the enemy his
logistical, intelligence and other forms of support from the
population. The organization of Barrio Self-Defense Units
(BSDUs) assistance rendered in the resettlement and
rehabilitation of captured or surrendered dissidents and
sympathizers and the intensification of combat operations in the
rural areas were examples of this type of operation.

On the other hand, counter insurgency operations involved


pacification drives or operations characterized by small unit
patrols, raids and ambuscades in dissident-infested areas.

129
Intensified Operations against CPP/HMB

In the early sixties, military authorities indicated that the


Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its military arm, the
Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB) was in a state of
resurgence stepping up its recruitment and organizational
activities in Central Luzon. In Pampanga alone, 17 commanders
were reported leading guerrilla units, and provincial authorities
claimed that every village in the province supported and aided the
Huks.

As a result of the massive AFP operations, however, party


organizational efforts temporarily suffered setbacks. Among those
neutralized or captured were Castro Alejandrino, Benjamin Hizon,
Mariano Sison alias del Mar and Jesus Lava, who was captured in
1964.

With the capture of CPP Secretary General Jesus Lava,


Pedro Taruc replaced him as the new CPP Secretary - General.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, although purportedly a
political party, was in fact an organized conspiracy to overthrow
the government of the republic, constituting a grave danger to the
security of the country.

In May 1967, the party hierarchy held a plenum which


selected a new set of Politburo members. In the same year, the
Party organized the Bagong Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan or
New Liberation Army of the Philippines.

Even as this developed at the Party level, a group of young


communists started to disagree with their old CPP leaders over
fundamental policies and tactical progress.4 Jose Ma. Sison
questioned the CPP leadership’s retaining control of the
Kabataang Makabayan (KM), while the Lava faction kept control
of the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN).

A dissenting group led by Jose Ma. Sison held its own


Congress in Central Luzon to commemorate Mao Tse Tung’s
birthday on December 26, 1968. The latter part of the year

130
signaled the turning point in the history of the communists in the
country. It ushered in the establishment of the New People’s Army
(NPA) which was tasked to undertake a protracted struggle in
rural areas. During the Congress which lasted from December
1968 to January 1969, the party program entitled “Program for the
People’s Democratic Revolution in the Philippines” was launched
and a new Party Constitution was ratified. Jose Ma. Sison was the
first elected Secretary General/Chairman of the CPP, while
Bernabe Buscayno was designated as the Commander-in-Chief of
the NPA.

Immediately after the suspension of the writ of habeas


corpus in 1971, the CPP issued a statement announcing its
readiness to shift its struggle from the parliamentary to armed
struggle. Earlier, party elements sponsored several anti-
government rallies in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Laguna and Bataan
and also participated in mass demonstra-tions in the Greater
Manila area.

The NPA growth was also noted in Cagayan, Nueva


Viscaya, Quirino, Ifugao, Kalinga and Bontoc. Intensified
subversive activities were also indicated in the provinces of
Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Quezon
Province.

Birth of the Secessionist Movement

The upsurge of rebel activities in the South can be traced


back to the issuance of a manifesto by former Governor Udtog
Matalam in the late sixties. The motives attributed to the issuance
of the manifesto were the Muslims’ objection of turning over
Sabah to Christian Filipinos, indignation at the Jabidah massacre
in March 1968 and disgust with their conditions. The roots of the
conflict which brought about the separatist or secessionist
movement was aptly described thus:

“. . . Its development was not given much thought


since it seems that the priorities were all centered in the
north and to the Visayas, the vote-rich regions. There was

131
a total lack of appreciation in the potentials of the region in
relation to the economic progress of the country. Also,
because of its isolation from the centers of power and
justice, violence has become traditional in some parts of it.”

As a resource-rich frontier, it offered unlimited


opportunities for Filipinos from other regions. The national
government promoted migration to the “rice bowl” that was
Mindanao to solve the country’s agrarian problems. The Christian
migration coincided with the increasing Islamic consciousness
among the Muslims. Thus, enmity heightened between the
Christian Filipinos and their Muslim brothers.

During this period, a group of Muslim student leaders who


underwent training in Cairo, Egypt met in secrecy in Zamboanga
City. This group included Nur Misuari (former instructor at the
University of the Philippines), Abul Khayr Alonto (a law student at
San Beda), Utah Salahuddin (deceased), Amilposa Bondaying
and Sali Wali. Thereafter, the group signed a manifesto pledging
their lives for the cause of their brother Muslims. In the late sixties,
said group underwent further training in guerrilla warfare at
Pangtar Island, Malaysia. Later, the group decided to organize
themselves into a political organization and thus a Central
Committee was born with Nur Misuari as the Chairman and Sali
Wali as the Zone Commander of the Committee. Primarily, the
Committee was tasked to look after the welfare of the Muslim
trainees undergoing basic training in Kuala Lumpur.

Not long after, a power struggle ensued between the so-


called “Barracudas” in Cotabato and the “Blackshirts” in Lanao
provinces. As a result, tension and fear gripped the once peaceful
Christians and Muslims in neighboring areas. In Cotabato, another
group of Filipinos organized themselves to defend Christian
communities from Muslim terrorism and violence and were
dubbed the “Ilagas.”

The fighting that followed between the “Ilagas” and the


“Blackshirts” was the cause in the closing of many schools, the
disruption of the economy and the mass evacuation of thousand

132
Secessionist members in a huddle. (PA Museum)

A combat helicopter guides an M113 APC, with troopers on top,


to a possible NPA lair, 1970. (PA Museum)

133
of innocent civilians. The Social Welfare Administration (SWA)
estimated that some 30,000 Muslims, Christians, Tirurays were
forced to abandon their homes.5

A Muslim congressman and a Christian governor who


began their political careers in the mid-sixties found themselves
bitter rivals by the late 60s. This rivalry developed quickly into
political battle dividing Muslims and Christians.

Thereafter, the conflict between the Christian Ilagas and


Barracudas flared up and led to large scale evacuation. The
Muslims fled towards the Lake Danao area, while Christians went
to Iligan and Ozamis, and some going as far as Cagayan de Oro
and Dumaguete. The mediating efforts of then President Marcos
and the intervention of the military were of no avail.

On September 28, 1968, due to the deteriorating peace


and order situation in the Southern Philippines, the Southwest
Command (SOWESCOM) was activated. It was tasked primarily
to strengthen the country’s southern defense due to the strained
relations between the Philippines and Malaysia over the Sabah
claim. Its other mission was to suppress the upsurge of
smuggling, piracy, banditry and other forms of pernicious activities
that were inimical to the national interest.

SOWESCOM was conceived to be a powerful military


command in the late sixties.6 It was established within the
conceptual framework of a unified command of maximum
utilization through systematic integration of all sea and air forces.
The general jurisdiction extended from Palawan in the west to the
coastal waters of Cotabato and nearby provinces in the east up to
and including the limits of Philippine territory in the South, notably
the Zamboanga Peninsula and the whole Sulu archipelago.

The existence of NPA cadres and KM chapters in


Mindanao and the Supreme Court findings of CPP/NPA
involvement in the disturbances in Cotabato and Lanao provinces
partly supported the contention that a Maoist-inspired conflict
posed a serious threat to the South’s peace and order situation in

134
the sixties.

Counter - Insurgency Measures

In the sixties, the armed forces formulated policies for an


all-out assistance to the economic growth and well-being of the
Filipinos. This was in consonance with the view that social unrest
in the country could not be eliminated by force of arms alone. In
this connection, the Army undertook a nationwide public works
construction, food production, land resettlement, rural
development and other activities calculated to bolster the
country’s socio-economic requirements.

These socio-economic programs were undertaken under


the auspices of the Socio-Economic Military Program (SEMP)
which took over the responsibilities of the Economic Development
Corps (EDCOR) earlier created by then Secretary of National
defense Ramon Magsaysay.

With the assumption of Ferdinand E Marcos to the


presidency in the mid-sixties, he enunciated a policy of “Armor con
Amor” the military’s primary tool to counter insurgency. To
complement the tactical operations conducted by the military, he
also stressed the full utilization of the organization in promoting
the socio-economic development of the country.

In the various projects undertaken through the Army’s


Socio-Economic Military Program (SEMP), cattles, carabaos, pigs,
horses and goats were raised which gave 4,000 civilians including
barrio leaders vocational training which they used to advantage.

Another military unit that quietly conducted its operation


against the dissidents without the use of arms was the Public
Affairs Office (PAO). Utilizing the “left hand effort” concept, PAO
teams conducted 336 rallies, 547 community assemblies, 601
house-to-house visits and 558 interviews in the provinces where
the dissidents operated.

Throughout the drive against the Huks in the sixties, the

135
PAO conducted public rallies, conferences, open forums, movie
showings and distributed propaganda materials to 622
communities. These psychological warfare activities were aimed
at “restoring the faith of the people in the government improving
civilian-military relationships and bolstering the morale of the
troops.” Moreover, the PAO’s Operation “Pakikisama” during the
period did much in arousing the masses against the dissidents
and in raising the morale of the officers and men, while promoting
better relationships between servicemen and civilians.

In cooperation with the military’s efforts, the Department of


Education, for its part, streamlined the country’s educational
standards to reflect the Filipinos’ history and culture adapted same
to the needs of the sixties. The Department of Industry, Trade,
Agriculture and Natural Resources and Public Highways
emphasized the development, cultivation and promotion of the
Philippines’ rich natural resources. On the other hand, the
Department of Tourism launched extensive campaigns to boost
tourism consciousness among the people bringing out in the
Filipino a nationalistic pride for the country’s history and culture.

Combat and Intelligence Operations

With the mounting insurgency in the sixties, the Philippine


Army intensified its combat and intelligence efforts. The Army
conducted a series of raids on suspected dissident hideouts. From
these raids, voluminous documents, leaflets and old books were
recovered which revealed programs and activities relating the
communist move-ment. Operations in San Fernando, San Nicolas
and Arayat, Pampanga, and in San Bartolome, Tarlac were
instrumental in flushing out Huk Commanders Alibasbas, Viray
Medina and Almendras. Also in May 1964, a successful raid
resulted in the seizure of several documents to include the
Communist Party’s Political Transmission from the captured CPP
Secretary General Jesus Lava.

On the other hand, records of the Department of National


Defense (DND) showed that the NPAs conducted raids and
resorted to kidnappings and took part in violent incidents totaling

136
over 230,000 in which it inflicted 404 casualties while suffering
from 243 killed. Military reports further indicated that in August
1971, the NPAs had six encounters in Northern Luzon, staging
one raid which claimed the lives of seven government troops. By
this period, a well armed group of NPAs led by defector LT Victor
Corpuz attacked the Command Post of Task Force Lawin in
Isabela. This particular attack resulted in the destruction of two
helicopters and one plane and the wounding of a soldier.

A month after, the NPA group ambushed the government


troops in San Agustin, Isabela and claimed the lives of six Army
soldiers and the wounding of a PC constable. Other encounters
between the military and dissidents also took place in Isabela,
Zambales, Camarines Sur, Quezon, Lanao Del Sur, Lanao Del
Norte, Zamboanga Del Norte and Cotabato.

It has been disclosed that in Isabela alone the NPA


controlled 33 of 37 municipalities. There were 207 existing BOCs
in 25 towns. Moreover, the NPA in the area have also established
communal farms and production bases.

From January 1966 to December 1971, there were a total


of 1,362 military and civilian casualties arising from a total of 833
violent incidents, with the breakdown as follows:

Year Nr of Incidents NPA AFP Civ


1966 59 114 14 98
1967 86 51 14 118
1968 80 100 06 116
1969 236 243 52 352
1970 225 518 65 359
1971 132 192 47 121

Through the Army’s intensified efforts in intelligence, the


military was able to seize a very significant document from the
insurgents during the period. The seized document entitled
Regional Program of Action prepared by the Central Committee of
the Communist Party of the Philippines outlined the various
activities of the insurgents in strategic areas of the country in order

137
to “intensify violence, disorder and confusion.” As gleaned from
the document, these activities included the conduct of sabotage
operations against universities, military camps, US bases and
selected towns to initiate more violent strikes and demonstrations
and to intensify the bombing of government buildings and other
vital utilities and installations. The overall objective of this program
of action as revealed in the document was indeed to foment
discontent and precipitate a nationwide revolution. The govern-
ment, given the magnitude of the threat had to respond to it de-
cisively. Among its options was the declaration of martial law.

A typical anti-government activism in the late 1960s.


(PA Museum)

138
Chapter 6

THE PHILIPPINE ARMY UNDER MARTIAL LAW

Background

In the seventies, the country faced its most difficult test


since obtaining political independence in 1946. During this period,
the nation was plunged into a state of anarchy and chaos,
lawlessness, graft and corruption, commodity price manipulation
and other social maladies.

Then in July 1972, an ocean-going vessel was discovered


at Digoyo Point, Isabela loaded with supplies believed to be for
the insurgents. Lt Victor Corpuz, a PMA alumnus, led well armed
NPAs in raiding his Alma Mater’s arsenal. During this period,
student activists, together with peasant and labor groups, also
conducted demonstrations and rallies, the most violent of which
was the so-called Battle of Mendiola. Infiltrated by subversive
radicals, these mass protest activities resulted in the destruction of
property and the loss of lives.

Confronted by this crisis, President Ferdinand E Marcos


issued Presidential Proclamation No. 1081, which placed the
Philippines under martial law, on September 21, 1972. President
Marcos declared:

“I assure you that I am utilizing this power vested


in me by the Constitution for one purpose alone, and
that is to save the Republic and reform our society. I wish
to emphasize these two objectives. We will eliminate the
threat of a violent overthrow of our Republic, but at the
same time, we must now reform the social, economic and
political institutions in our country.”

With this declaration, the Armed Forces of the Philippines


were tasked with the responsibility of safeguarding the
transformation of the country into a New Society. In this
connection, President Marcos said, “I will continue to depend on

139
our military establishment our nation will rely on it as the sentinel
of our political sovereignty.”

In its broader sense, the role of the military was spelled


out as follows:

“The military personnel of the Armed Forces of the


Philippines, more than any other body of the government, have
been called upon to carry the great burden of suppressing the
activities of men actively engaged in a criminal conspiracy and
eradicating widespread lawlessness, anarchy, disorder and
wanton destruction of life and property that prevailed throughout
the country “

In pursuit of that role, the Army was given specific


objectives to accomplish for the entire duration of the
emergency. Maj. Gen. Rafael Zagala, then Commanding
General, PA summed up the missions in a message to the
officers and men of the Army: “We have been called upon to
maintain peace and order in the country to suppress or prevent
all forms of lawless violence, and enforce obedience to all
decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by the Office of the
President. We are expected to carry out the grave responsibility
of restoring peace and order so that our people can again live in
tranquility.”

In the same message Maj. Gen. Zagala exhorted Army


soldiers to serve as models of integrity for the people: “Let us set
the example of obedience to laws and orders as well as
regulations which we ourselves are mandated to perform.”

Suspension of the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus

There were three factors justifying the suspension of the


writ, namely - invasion, insurrection and rebellion. The privilege of
the writ of habeas corpus had been suspended before 1972. The
first time during the American regime, second was when the
Philippines was just arising from the ashes of a world war and
third in 1971 when the Filipinos were reframing the Constitution.

140
With the advent of the seventies, the Greater Manila area
became the staging area for countless strikes due to increases in
oil and gas prices. Schools were in upheaval and violent
demonstrations supported by students which ended in injury and
death. As a result, classes were suspended several times.

Raids conducted in Tarlac by the military resulted in the


seizure of documents revealing the re-establishment of the
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the formal organization
of its military arm, the New People’s Army, the dedication of the
Maoist concept of violent revolution and the alliance of various
student, peasant and labor groups with the NPA.

On December 29, 1970, LT Victor Corpuz, who had


defected from the PC to the NPA, led a commando raid at the
PMA armory in Baguio and was able to carry away a sizable
number of weapons for the insurgents.

A number of bombings were recorded in the Greater


Manila Area. In Mindanao, land grabbers were provoking a
Muslim-Christian conflict. Some newspaper columnists
sympathized with the administration’s ongoing Constitutional
Convention, but a significant number were critical of the
administration’s apparent inability to restore peace and order and
were skeptical of the integrity of the Con-Con and peace reform.

Following a series of violent events climaxed by the


bombing of the Liberal Party rally at Plaza Miranda, President
Marcos suspended the privilege of the writ on August 21, 1971.
The suspension was primarily attributed to the “existence of a
conspiracy of lawlessness and disorder.” At the end of the month,
the President amended the proclamation by inserting the phrase
“groups are actually engaged in said conspiracy.”

On September 18, 1971, President Marcos issued


Proclamation 889-B lifting the suspension in twenty-seven
provinces, three sub-provinces and twenty-six cities. A week later,
pursuant to Proclamation 889-C, the suspension was lifted in
fourteen more provinces and eighteen more cities in Mindanao

141
and Sulu. By October 4, the suspension of the writ had been lifted
throughout the country except in Greater Manila Area and in the
NPA-HMB affected provinces in northern, central and southern
Luzon and three Mindanao provinces. Ultimately, in December 3,
President Marcos lifted the suspension in the entire country.

Corpus’ Defection

In the history of the Philippine Army, a grave act of


disloyalty occurred when an alumnus of the Philippine Military
Academy (PMA), Lt Victor N Corpus of PMA Class 1967, raided
the PMA armory on December 29, 1970. This was the first
incident of its kind ever recorded in the pages of the time-honored
and glorious military institution. He raided the PMA armory at 5:30
in the morning with the help of ten civilians believed to be
members of the New People’s Army.

It might be recalled that during his days as a PC officer, Lt


Corpus had the opportunity to mingle with many personalities
belonging to various organizations affiliated with universities and
colleges in Manila and the suburbs. With his defection, he left a
comfortable life to join a group of hunted men.

On April 30, 1971, Secretary of National Defense Juan


Ponce Enrile delivered a speech entitled, “Military Leadership in
the Face of Communist Insurgency and Subversion in the
Philippines," before the graduating class of the Command and
General Staff College, Fort Bonifacio, where he discussed the
cases of Victor Corpus and Crispin Tagamolila.

In Enrile’s analysis, the reasons for their defections were


ideological rather than factual and that these officers had to defect
in order to hasten the deterioration of the Philippine democratic
system. Based on the Marxist interpretation of the social order, the
Philippine politico-military and economic cultural orientation were
rotten to the core. In this connection, Corpus was reported to have
said, “I am aware of the fact that an increasing number of officers
are thinking of, and as a matter of fact, are already plotting to
launch a coup d’ etat against the government. Some of these

142
officers maybe well- meaning. But let me tell you that they cannot
uproot the principal evils that are U.S. imperialism, feudalism and
bureau-capitalism, which now afflict the nation.”

Corpus likewise charged that the “AFP is nothing but a


puppet of U.S. imperialism and its officers are trained for counter-
insurgency by the U.S. ambassador, mission chief of the Joint
United States Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG), the Agency for
International development (AID) and the United States
Information Agency (USIA).”

In view of the foregoing analysis, Secretary Enrile urged


college authorities to ensure that the educational effort to promote
the democratic processes would be more pervasive and more
relevant to existing realities. Furthermore, he urged the Command
and General Staff College to adopt and implement an integrated
course of study on the concepts of communism and how these
concepts were practiced and applied in insurgency and subversive
activities. He said, “It would be a great help to many of our young
men and women particularly those who are in the armed forces,
for the college to henceforth provide a course of study, better still,
produce a basic textbook, for the instruction of our military people
in matters of reason and practical achievements of democracy,
which is by far superior to communism. The course of study must
be developed and arranged so as to make it more understandable
even by enlisted men in the field. I believe that it is the time for us
to develop a desire even among the new recruits of the AFP to
understand the nature of the worldwide combat between the
systems of democracy and communism.”

Digoyo Point Incident

On July 4 and 5, 1972, an ocean-going vessel was sighted


off at Digoyo Point, Palanan abandoned by its crew. The vessel
was the “Kuya Maru-Karagatan.” which had allegedly landed a
huge shipment of food, radio receiving sets, communist
documents, military hardware and other supplies. Reacting to the
sighting reports, Secretary Enrile sent PAF jets and PN ships to
spot and seize what was believed to be a foreign vessel.

143
However, armed men deployed along the seashore fired upon the
government troops as they tried to board the vessel. A helicopter
dispatched to the area was likewise reported fired upon by hostile
elements in the vicinity.

Reports had it that the firearms and other supplies were


intended as military assistance to the NPA by a foreign power.
Communist forces were composed of, as reported by The World
Strength of Communist Organization of the US Department of
Defense at the time, three small groups operating in Central,
Northern and Southern Luzon supported by a mass base of
35,000 to 80,000 persons. In these areas, the “Bagong Hukbong
Bayan” or NPA under the leadership of Commander Dante, had
become the largest dissident group.

When the “Karagatan” incident occurred, the Philippine


Army deployed three of its existing infantry battalions in Isabela.
These were the 4th, 5th and 20th Infantry battalions. In July 9,
elements of the 4th Infantry Battalion under the command of Col
Melchor F dela Cruz, while on their way to Digoyo via the
shorelines were ambushed. SSgt Emilio Kiddagan, Sgt Zacarias
Quirino and Private Amor Amora were killed on the spot. A
coordinated air and naval bombardment was made in the enemy’s
position, which was soon abandoned. The NPA had left a veritable
stockpile of war equipment. Military units had another encounter
with the NPAs at Digoyo a little later, and recovered from the
scene four rockets, four magazines and four M14 rifles along with
empty M14 cartridges. Other abandoned NPA camps yielded
more military hardware. All of these indicated that they were part
of the M/V Karagatan cargo.

As the massive military operations drew to a close,


government troops were able to recover only about 900 of the
3,000 M14 rifles and six of about 30 M40 rockets launchers which
were reportedly landed by the vessel. In pursuing the insurgents,
the AFP also recovered 160,000 rounds of ammunition, two
Browning Automatic rifles, which were originally looted by Victor
Corpus from the PMA armory, five Garand M1 rifles, one
telephone set and numerous M14 magazines.

144
In July 10, President Marcos categorically stated that the
vessel was not foreign, but was registered under Philippine laws
and that it was manned by Filipinos whom he did not identify. He
likewise revealed that the entries in the vessel’s logbook were in
English, but some of its records were in Chinese. The M/V
Karagatan as registered, was twenty five meters long, five meters
wide with over two meters draft, displacing twenty five tons.

Mr Rolando Estrella, who claimed to be the owner of the


vessel and of the Karagatan Fishing Corporation, denied
involvement in the NPA. In July 13, President Marcos disclosed
that there had been two Chinese crew members aboard the
vessel and that the M14s recovered were NATO-issued weapons
which had been replaced in 1964 by M16 armalites. The next day,
Senators Benigno S. Aquino Jr. and Leonardo Perez, investigating
the incident, visited the Isabela coast and confirmed that unknown
elements had fired at the government troops.

Birth of the New Society

Since the birth of the Republic, there had been a


continuing state of rebellion in the country. Anti-government
activities in some sectors of the populace had posed grave threats
not only to the security of the country but also to the development
of the nation. The beginning of the 1970s saw the rise of rebellion
to the point where functions of both national and local government
were paralyzed. Definitely, the government had established that
certain elements of the populace had entered into a form of
conspiracy with the enemies of the State for the purpose of
waging an armed insurrection against the government to forcibly
seize political and state power.

The President remarked on the declaration of martial law,


thus:

“As a constitutional measure, the proclamation of


martial law takes into immediate account the im-
mobilization and dismantling of constitutional opposition,
the advocates and perpetrators of rebellion, the

145
conspirators, the separatists, and the elements which
although not politically motivated are actually displacing
power.”

With the advent of the New Society, the Philippine Army


reviewed and updated its operational set up to meet the demands
of its primary objectives. Its’ involvement in tactical operations in
different parts of the country remain unchanged. Clearly, the most
immediate task was to contain the threat to national security. To
cope with the shortage in combat troops required for the
worsening rebellion, the Army increased its troop ceiling in 1972.
It beefed up its overall strength to an average 65% which paved
the way for the organization of four (4) additional infantry
battalions in combat areas as well as to provide security for other
installations thus freeing regular battalions from garrison duties.

Military tribunals were created immediately for the purpose


of deciding cases concerning military personnel, crime against
public order such as the violation of the Subversion Law, the
Firearm Law and other crimes directly related to rebellion. The
Philippine Army assumed the added but less important role of
helping pave the way for national progress and development. A
series of reforms covering a broad spectrum of socio-economic
policy was undertaken.

These reforms emphasized one of the vital advantages of


the martial law administration in the Philippines, which made it
differ in style compared to other countries exercising martial law
powers. Since the primary goal was to safeguard the nation from
internal and external threats, the Philippine Army worked hard.

It did its part in the socio-economic movement where


changes were given emphasis, while supporting and com-
plementing the civil administration of justice, with the civil sector
retaining the widest jurisdiction over cases. Notoriously un-
desirable public officials were dismissed; some offices were
abolished while new ones were created and a number of these
were integrated to form one agency.

146
Army rangers roam the base of Sierra Madre during
the MV Karagatan incident in 1972 (PA Museum)

Troopers point a 105 mm. recoilless rifle towards an enemy lair.


(PA Museum)

147
Army’s Mission and Objectives

The Army’s mission and objectives remained the same


throughout the years. Section 10, No 389 series 1950 was still the
basis of the Army’s operational, administrative and organizational
missions. It was made more specific by prescribing the Army’s
functions as follows:

a. To organize, train and equip the Army for the conduct


of prompt and sustained combat operations;
b. To develop in coordination with other services, tactics
and techniques in field operations;
c. To train, organize and equip all Army reserve units;
d. To perform such other functions as the President may
direct.

The aforementioned mission gave emphasis to the


importance of a strong base operation. Whatever the missions of
the army’s various components modified by successive directives,
these modifications were made wherever feasible and wherever
considered practicable. The primary consideration, however, were
suitability under peacetime conditions and the requirements of the
practical unit without in any way sacrificing its ability to express
combat readiness or availability whenever required or directed.

In the pursuit of its missions, the army has established


certain objectives dependent on security conditions:

1. To achieve a standing ground capability by providing an


initial protective force of adequately organized units that cold
readily be employed in sufficient strength to meet an a emergency
a mobilization base capable of rapid expansion;
2. To achieve a continuing state of readiness for the army
mobilization components;
3. To provide for the army’s contribution in other fields
directed toward serving the national interest such as assistance in
the government’s infrastructure program, technical assistance in
the undertaking of rural projects, supervision over the resettlement

148
programs in Mindanao, assistance during disasters and calamities
and assistance to AFP units during riots and demonstrations;
4. Relief and rescue missions and operations of essential
public utilities during strikes and other disturbances.

With the imposition of Martial Law, however, the Army took


additional tasks as follows:

1. Reinforcement of all Presidential decrees, general


orders and letters of instructions to implement
Proclamation 1081;
2. Assistance to the METROCOM in its various
operations of public utilities, pursuant to the provisions
of Presidential Letters of Instructions No. 2, dated
September 22, 1972;
3. To take over management, control and operations of
the Iligan Integrated Steel Mills, Inc., and the Elizalde
Rolling Mills, Inc.;

Basically, these were the guidelines which all army


activities were planned, subject to the limitations imposed by
availability of resources. These guidelines, embodied in the army’s
operating program, served as the yardstick that made possible the
accomplishments of the army’s objectives as described.

Generally, the main preoccupation of the Army was the


build up of its forces to meet the emergency brought about by the
increased and widespread activities of the rebels in Luzon and
Mindanao. Routine activities were not sacrificed especially the
Army’s participation in national government’s infrastructure
development programs. In the event of conflict of tasks, the
utilization of manpower and material resources for the
performance of tasks depending on specific situations was based
on priorities as established by the Commanding General,
Philippine Army. Deviation and realignments were resorted to only
if this improved the over-all command posture.

149
The Army’s Role in National Development

During martial law, the Philippine Army’s services ex-


tended beyond the field of combat for the preservation of the
nation’s peace and order had reached out into socio-economic
endeavors.

The Command’s personnel were not only experts in


soldiery, but their managerial talents and operational skills were
also tapped to solve the country’s socio-economic progress. The
Army was involved in industries and government organizations
traditionally managed by civilian executives. Home defense
activities were given a boost during this period. These non-military
pursuits of the Army included Manpower Reserve Ad-ministration
and Reserve Deployment, Civil Relations, Mass Base Operations,
Motivation and Enlightenment and Military Economic Develop-
ment.

The infrastructure program of the PA Engineer Con-


struction Battalions (ECBs) was carried out throughout the
country. In the South, they undertook the construction of roads
and bridges, airports, irrigation systems, electrification, develop-
ment and opening of settlements vital to the country’s economic
development.

The Army’s engineering brigades cooperated with the


ECBs in the construction of feeder roads and linear meter for
bridges. Another accomplishment was the thirty-five kilometer
transmission lines from Tabuk, Kalinga-Apayao to Enrile, Ca-
gayan. It also assisted in the construction of National Food
Authority warehouses, Bagong Lipunan school buildings and rural
health centers in Ilocos Norte, Puerto Princesa and Samar. Other
noteworthy projects were the following: the successful completion
of the right lane of the North Diversion Road in Bulacan, the
concreting of a portion of E. de los Santos Avenue in Quezon City
and the nine-kilometer winding road to the Dambana ng
Kagitingan in Bataan. With the successful diversion of rivers,
graded mountains and reclaimed foreshore areas, Bataan was

150
able to accommodate 55 giant factories, housing facilities and
other service buildings in the area.

In the South, the completion of the Kakar - Biniruan Road,


Pigcawayan - Libungan (Toreta) Road, the restoration of Quirino
Bridge, the completion of MAGELCO Phase 1 and SUKELCO
Electrification Project, were added laurels to the ECBs ac-
complishments. Equally noteworthy was the construction of a 69
KV transmission line from Balabagan, Lanao Del Sur to Nuling,
and Maguindanao with a total length of 34.77 kilometers.

In Sulu and Zamboanga, the 1st and 4th Civil and In-
formation Service Teams conducted courses on trade skills and
vocational training to improve employment qualifications of the
residents as well as to generate job opportunities for them. The
vocational training courses were as follows: Carpentry, Heavy
Equipment Operator, Telephone Wire Lineman, Heavy Equipment
Maintenance and Repair with a minimum number of 300 students
lasting for 12 weeks. The Driver’s Preventive Maintenance and
Welding Course were conducted at eight and 16 weeks,
respectively.

To fight illiteracy, selected Army soldiers conducted Army


Literacy Patrol System (ALPS) which involved 11 battalions and
other support units with Zamboanga Peninsula as the pilot area.
Illiterate adults and children in depressed areas beyond the reach
of the Ministry of Education and Culture were encouraged to gain
knowledge on the 3 Rs - Reading, ‘Riting’ and ‘Rithmetic’ and be
acquainted with nationalism.

Civic action in depressed areas was also given paramount


importance. Among these were Exercise “Tulungan” at Dingalan,
Quezon, spearheaded by the G3, 1st Infantry Division (IID), PA
and the elements of Task Force Preserve which established the
RP-US Bayanihan building in Cagayan and Pampanga, the
Paniqui and Aliaga flood control dikes, the multipurpose pavement
construction at Balungao, Pangasinan and the Capas - Botolan
Road.

151
The food campaign project of the Green Revolution was
intensified by the Command. To attract more participants, various
incentives like cash prizes and garden tools were offered. Under
the project were landscaping, mushroom and vegetable culture,
fish culture and the planting of fruit and non-fruit bearing trees. A
total of 49,599.88 hectares were reforested. This was maintained
by the Philippine Army in the following camps throughout the
country. Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City; Camp Riego de Dios,
Cavite; Camp Lapulapu in Cebu City; Camp Peralta in Jamindan,
Capiz and Camp Paulino Santos in Cotabato.

The Kamagong Concept

With the declaration of martial law, the Army came up with


the “Kamagong Concept” primarily to beef up its forces against the
enemy, especially in the South. The concept was to reinforce
primarily the 4th Infantry Division with troops from other units,
particularly from the 1st Infantry Division and the 3rd Infantry
Brigade (Separate).

At first this concept seemed adequate until the situation in


Mindanao made a turn for the worse. Compounding the problem
was the equally explosive situation in Luzon. The area of
operations was earlier confined to Central Luzon but later rapidly
spread to other parts of the islands, particularly the Cagayan
Valley and the Bicol Region. Subsequently, there arose an acute
need for troops in Mindanao, as well as in Luzon. Thereby the
contingency plan was executed as envisioned and prepared
exactly for this type of situation.

In line with the Citizen Army concept, the Army conducted


training of 20-year old trainees, sent them home and called them
to duty whenever necessary. However, test mobilization showed
that there was a poor turnout of reservists. The military training
which covered only 30 days made them less capable in combat
readiness. It was therefore felt that a tough, well-trained unit be
organized which should be capable of effectively containing, if not
destroying, the dissident forces in Luzon and Mindanao.

152
In July 1974, the Army’s Commanding General, Maj Gen
Rafael Zagala reviewed the contingency plans. This study resulted
in the formation of Operation Plan Kamagong. This called for the
employment of extended trainees who were most readily available
and being fresh from their training, were most fit for combat duty.
Within this framework, trainees serving extended duty were given
assignments to Kamagong units which were organized following
their own tables of organization. As its nucleus, the Kamagong
battalion had a cadre of officers and selected regular enlisted
personnel. When the need was foreseen, the Kamagong bat-
talions were activated, equipped and trained as a unit and then
employed. Under RA 4091, a trainee was replaced by another
who had just completed his training when the former completed
his maximum term of service with a kamagong unit.

The role of the youth in defense was embodied in a


Presidential Decree which further authorized the drafting of a
trainee into selective emergency service with the armed forces
following a six-month training period.

The training of 20-year old for the Kamagong battalions


was a continuing process with at least four batches being trained
successively every year. The concept provided a sufficient
number of battalions in response to the sudden escalation of
insurgency in the South. Subsequent events proved the wisdom of
the Kamagong concept to restoring national security.

Education and Training

The total approach to education and training was evolved


to meet the demands for well trained officers and enlisted
personnel in all fields of duty. Since the primary mission of the
Philippine Army School Center (PASC) is training, it also con-
ducted courses that fitted the needs of resident, non-resident and
selected civilians. However, the school did not neglect the training
of its own ranks. With the activation of the PA Training Command
(PATC), formerly the PA School Center (PASC), it conducted and
introduced concepts that necessarily effected military innovations.
It also initiated reviews on training and retraining. It restructured

153
the courses being offered for officers and enlisted personnel alike.

Officers and enlisted personnel were given instruction with


emphasis on prerequisites. Programs were designed to cope with
the needs for specific and diverse skill targets. The formalization
of cross training courses and schooling was decentralized in major
units. Also, subjects on public relations, career enrichment and
character development were incorporated to produce well rounded
military professionals. In addition, Troop Information and Edu-
cation (TIE) were intensified to provide personnel a continuous
form of discussion of subjects pertaining to martial law and others
which affected them.

This reorganization tapped the major training units which


contributed much to the success of a soldier in combat. This kept
the troops abreast of modern trends in warfare. These units were
the following: Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group
(HHSG); Service School Combat Development Center (CODEC);
Army Wide Support Training Center (AWSTRAC); Special Ope-
rations Training Center (SPECTER) and Manpower Skills Training
Center (MASTRAC).

The Command concluded agreements with various


agencies to complement its programs. On the other hand, the re-
gular training was categorized with designated functions which
strengthened the esprit de corps. Units which were not committed
in the area of operations, so as not to disrupt operational mis-
sions, underwent training reviews.

Third class trainees and extended trainees, fresh from the


six-month military training, went through vigorous training in
special warfare.

The increase in PA officers and men who went through the


various training programs was due to the output from extension
schools in the Division/Brigade levels which enabled officers and
enlisted personnel to take courses even if they were from another
unit. It produced more knowledgeable officers in the units ready to
perform duties and responsibilities according to their ranks and

154
assignments. The conduct of unprogrammed courses to meet the
requirements for the PA’s newly-acquired vehicles and armament
contributed to the Army’s output and capabilities both in combat
and technical know how. Deviation in output was due to the in-
ability of units in meeting prescribed student quotas and the
postponement of courses due to billeting limitations.

Revitalization Plan

A bold ten-year program for the revitalization of the Army,


a brainchild of then Maj Gen Fortunato U Abat, the Army’s Com-
manding General, was launched early in 1976. The program was
primarily aimed to develop the organization as a potent force in
national defense and nation building in the light of current world
and local developments. General Abat stated: “The evolution of
the Army into the contemporary structure and the international
socio-political trends dictate the need to evaluate the present
organization.” The Army, no doubt, was confronted with obsole-
scence in some of its doctrines and principles, weapons systems
and equipment which had suffered from administrative handicaps.
Generally, the revitalization scheme was divided into two 5-year
periods. General Abat stressed the significance of each phase as
follows:

“The object of the first five year of revitalization would


be the strength of the the lower echelons of the Army
specifically that of maneuvering units and division support
units… to develop full capability to meet internal threats to
the country’s security. The second five-year plan was geared
towards attaining a conventional capability to meet external
aggression and the preparation for required mutual
commitment or tie up with other services or armies of the
country’s allies.”

Throughout the revitalization period, the Army also improved


its capability for nation-building. With a plan for equipment
acquisition, the Army was able to upgrade its capability to assist in
the government’s developmental programs.

155
The revitalization scheme covered both the physical and
non-physical aspects of the Army. Organization, personnel fill up,
equipage and restructuring of new units, their deployment in
accordance with updated tactical concepts and doctrines were
embraced in the physical aspect. On the other hand, the non-
physical aspect covered administrative reforms such as the
introduction of effective career management systems and devising
a wide ranging program for troop motivation and enlightenment.

One of the major changes introduced was the organization


of the reserve force structure along the territorial concept. The
Army Reserve Command (ARESCOM) was activated on
September 1, 1977, especially to handle the over all Army Re-
serve program. The objective of generating reserve manpower
requirements for defense was met by establishing a Home De-
fense Battalion (HDB) in each province to be administered by
respective Home Defense Units (HDUs). As of 1978, a total of five
HDBs and 38 HDUs were in operation.

Mechanized Infantry Battalions and an Aviation Battalion


were created for “maximum mobility and increased capability to
locate the enemy.” In line with this innovation, the Special Warfare
Brigade (SWBde) was activated on January 16, 1978 and was
tasked to plan and conduct special warfare-type operations,
independently or jointly with other combat units. The present or-
ganization traced its beginning from three entities, namely: the 1st
Special Forces Company, the defunct Scout Ranger Training
Center and the Civil Disturbance Control which primarily deal with
riot control operations.

On the other hand, the activation of the Army Aviation


Battalion on April 15, 1978 provided the Army with maximum
mobility and flexible response towards the enemy. Moreover, the
acquisition of a number of armored vehicles by the Army
prompted the unification into one cohesive command all existing
Light Armored Battalions and companies earlier created. The
result was the Philippine Army Light Armored Regiment (PALAR)
which was organized on August 6, 1976. Under the revitalization
program, PALAR was tasked with providing armor support and

156
maneuver elements to the infantry battalions or brigades in the
performance of their missions. As the situation required, PALAR
also served as combat and combat service units.

Another significant innovation was the utilization of the


Army Management Information Center (AMIC) as a tool for
decision making. This directorate-type of organization provided
the Army with computer-based management information, per-
formance management surveys, top-level management systems
analysis and statistical data. It likewise organized a Field In-
formation System (FIS) to strengthen its feedback system. Also,
AMIC in coordination with the Phil Army Training Command
(TRACOM) introduced Computer-Assisted Maneuver and Battle
Action Training (COMBAT).

Administrative innovations were also introduced in the


revitalization scheme. A priority concern was the development of
an effective career management system for the officer corps. The
Army basic branch of service was modified to facilitate the
development and identification of different specialties and their
proper utilization by the commanders. Emphasis on training
techniques was stressed to take cognizance of lessons learned as
well as practical applications.

Five areas were pinpointed in tactical and organizational


structure which required revitalization: maneuverability / mobility,
firepower reconnaissance and target acquisition, command and
control of communications and service support. General Abat
stressed that these factors were of primary importance since the
outcome of military engagements was determined by time.

National Security Operations

The campaign for peace and order was primarily the


concern of the military in behalf of the law-abiding citizens of the
country. Throughout the martial law years, the Philippine Army
fought for the preservation of the nation and of the cherished
integrity of the Filipinos. Their involvement in tactical operations
was conducted on two broad fronts: in Mindanao, where the

157
Muslims stepped-up their anti-government operations under the
aegis of the Mindanao National Liberation Front (MNLF) and in
Northern Luzon, where the NPA established a foothold to stage a
strong opposition to whatever gains had been achieved by the
New Society’s peace and order campaign.

Since the lawless activities continued to prevail, the


Philippine Army did not spare time and effort but rather expanded
its intelligence network. At the same time, it trained its personnel,
acquired more firepower and weapons and intensified home
defense activities, as well as involving itself in the country’s socio-
economic development as a way to combat threats to the
government.

The knowledge acquired in these activities greatly


improved the skills as well as the capability of the soldiers and
enabled them to overcome setbacks in certain operations. It also
contributed to their participation in almost all major operations
against the insurgents such as the Digoyo Point incident, the
Lebak-Cotabato offensive and the operations in Basilan and Sulu.
The Army made a substantial contribution to the speedy
restoration of peace in Isabela after it was effectively controlled by
the NPA. This also included the capture of the rebel stronghold in
Lebak, to the pacification of Basilan Island, Jolo and other islands
in the Sulu archipelago. The Army lost many good men in those
campaigns but took pride in the belief that it had given its best to
the cause of peace in the country.

The Army, as a result of improved intelligence and counter


intelligence, took charge of very prominent detainees and
managed to return to the fold of the law several ranking rebel
leaders such as Abdul Mamid Lukman, MNLF legal adviser;
Herman Hatalan, head of the Mortar Unit, Basilan Revolutionary
Committee; Al Rusein Kaluang, head of the MNLF Security Force;
and Napsa Jaludin, head of the Women’s Bureau and Medical
Corps, Basilan Revolutionary Command.

The expansion of the intelligence networks, led to the


establishment of a tactical brigade composed of battalions ranging

158
from three to six in every locality depending on the bulk of enemy
forces. Additional components were organized along the Kama-
gong concept. The Army’s forces were concentrated in the areas
where the insurgents conducted their operations, but the way the
Army’s over all operations was carried out, spoke of the govern-
ment’s concern for civilian lives.

Combat operations during this period were relentlessly


conducted against the enemies of the State. These combat
operations underscored the Army’s resolve in carrying on its
primary mission of national defense.

Operation Sibalo

Sibalo Hill is located strategically at the neck of Jolo Island.


It was imperative for government troops to gain control of this
important terrain since this served as a sanctuary for the
secessionist rebels. This Hill was reportedly occupied by Sahibad
and his followers from Kambing. Another outlaw group under an
unidentified commander from Kuta Lubok with an undetermined
number of members was also holed in the area.

In November 1972, the first major attack against Sibalo Hill


was launched by the 7th and 8th Marine Companies of the Philip-
pine Navy. One squad of the Marine Company was almost wiped
in the ensuing firefight. To avenge the defeat of the government
troops, the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) under Colonel Alfonso
Alcoseba was assigned to spearhead the ground operations which
were conducted up to its successful completion.

Operation “Sibalo” was carried in three (3) phases: Phase


1 - One Scout Ranger Combat Group (SRCG) was employed to
infiltrate the objectives and also provided air support and
evacuated casualties; Phase 2 - two APCs provided close support
to the 11trh Infantry Battalion which was securing Punai while the
Scout Rangers occupied Hill 113; Phase 3 - the last group con-
ducted the second assault wave.

The operation went on smoothly. However, while the 11th

159
Infantry Battalion was executing its withdrawal to Camp Seit, it
met superior enemy fire. Fortunately, four APCs were sent to
support the battalion movement, provided the necessary counter
fire which enabled it to accomplish its withdrawal. At about eight
in the morning of December 30, 1972, the composite forces
succeeded in linking up with elements of the 8th Marine Company
at the slope of Sibalo Hill. At 2:30 p.m., the area was cleared and
the operation ended.

The physical occupation by government troops of Sibalo


Hill proved to be of great psychological value to the AFP. For one,
it revived the offensive spirit of the troops. It also demonstrated to
the civilian populace the government’s serious intentions in as-
serting its authority over rebel infested areas.

Operation Lebak

The lawless activities of the secessionists in the Tran-


Lebak area in Cotabato led the government to employ the Central
Mindanao Command (CEMCOM) to re-establish government
authority in the area. Brig Gen Fortunato U Abat, then CEMCOM
Commander evolved plans to carry out the destruction of the
guerrilla base and at the same time bring about reconciliation with
the groups headed by Datu Sangki Karon.

Constituted to carry out these objectives was Task Force


“Cosmos” under LT Colonel Madrino Muñoz of the 1st Composite
Infantry Battalion (ICIB), GHQ, AFP. The Task Force “Cosmos”
was composed of the ICIB, the 22nd Infantry Battalion, three
Constabulary companies and a Civilian Home Defense Unit In the
later part of the operation, Task Force “Sarsi” was organized to
block the escape of the insurgents to the north. The main strategy
adopted was to drive the rebels to Turongan where all the exits
could be sealed.

Full-scale government operations were launched on June


6, 1973. Government troops encountered stiff resistance from the
well-entrenched rebels in the action. On June 24, Col. Gonzalo
Siongco assumed control over the ground operations. Not long

160
afterwards, the 25th Infantry Battalion under Col. Jose Espinosa
was committed to assist in the operation. Hand in hand with other
government troops, the 6th Infantry Brigade (Provisional) suc-
ceeded in tightening the noose around the rebel’s neck. As the
operation progressed, frontline troops engaged in psychological
operations by distributing leaflets urging the enemy to surrender.

The culmination of the Lebak campaign on August 4, 1973,


effectively depleted the enemys rank, thereby placing the whole
area under effective government control. Operation “Lebak”
terminated with the following losses on the part of the enemy: 422
Killed in Action; 39 captured; and 1,036 surrendered. On the other
hand, the government forces suffered a total of 207 casualties
broken down as follows: 48 “Killed in Action”; 157 “Wounded in
Action”; and one “Missing in Action.” As a whole, Operation
“Lebak” was a significant psychological victory for the government.

Operation Reina Regente

Several rebel leaders in Mount Reina Regente at Datu


Piang, Cotabato, were sighted, which indicated a massive con-
centration of rebel forces in the area. Among these rebel leaders
identified in the above-stated mass base were: Ameli Mlakiok,
alias Commander Ronnie and Subo Dalandan alias Commander
Corpus. To crush the mountain redoubt as a rallying point for the
rebels, CEMCOM under Brig. Gen. Abat launched operation
“Reina Regente” on January 24, 1974.

The 6th Infantry Brigade under Col. Gonzalo Siongco was


assigned to conduct search and destroy operations on enemy
concentrations. Attached to the 6th Infantry Brigade for the
prosecution of the operation were the 4th, 12th, 22nd and 27th IBs,
“B” Battery of the Army Artillery Group, Combat Air Strike Force
Cotabato of the Regional Air Command (RACMIN), Task Force
“Pagkaisa”, the Sultan Kudarat Constabulary Command and
Civilian Home Defense Force Units in the area.

On February 2, 1974, the main offensive began to seize


the primary objectives: Mount Reina Regente and Burarao. Paidu

161
Pulangi, the first tactical objective, was occupied immediately.
After four days, Maambung and Parang and other initial objective,
were well under control. In an attempt to turn the tide of battle in
their favor, the rebels attacked at the least expected point: Jolo.

The unexpected attack took government troops by com-


plete surprise. It was a momentary victory for the rebels as pro-
perties worth millions of pesos were destroyed. In addition,
thousands of innocent civilians were killed. The 14th Infantry
Batallion under Lt. Col. Jaime Echeverria also supported the
counter-attack. By February 10, five Infantry battalions had joined
hands to complete the liberation of Jolo.

Bud Awak and Bud Datu, which served as sanctuaries for


the retreating rebels, became the next objectives. The arrival of
APCs and a tank, plus continuous air strikes, considerably
softened the enemy positions. On April 10, 1974, Operation
“Bagsik” came to an end. The campaign claimed the lives of
ninety-nine government troops, while twenty-two others were
wounded. The rebels on the other hand, sustained 516 KIAs
(actual body count) and some 224 wounded. Also, forty-six rebels
were captured and seventy-five assorted firearms as well as
valuable documents were seized.

Operation Tanuel

On June 21, 1974 at 9:00 in the morning, CEMCOM


launched a counter-offensive operation towards Tanuel, a rebel-
infested town. CEMCOM employed the 6th, 11th and 21st Infantry
Battalions with a total force of about 700 officers and men. Initially,
two companies, one from the 6th Infantry Battalion and one from
the 21st Infantry Battalion, together with two APCs, supported by
PAF aircraft, engaged an estimated 150 heavily armed rebels at
the foot of Hill 124. The enemy employed small arms fire followed
by mortar rounds which were effectively countered by the use of
rocket launchers, M-79s and mortars from the government side.

The two-day firefight resulted in the death of seven


enlisted men and nine missing, all belonging to the 11th Infantry

162
Battalion. They continued the attack at about 3 o’clock in the
afternoon of June 24 and found the nine missing enlisted men.
Thirty-four enemy dead were counted in the area.

The attack was further pressed on June 25. The rebels,


under heavy pressure, retreated southward leaving behind ten
KIA, one carbine and assorted ammunition. With the 6th Infantry
Battalion on the left and the 11th Infantry Battalion on the right to
the high ground, a final push was launched towards Tanuel,
thereby affecting a link up with the 22nd Infantry Battalion at Tanuel
Creek the following day.

In this operation the enemy was dealt a heavy blow. The


enemy sustained 86 KIAs and an estimated 76 wounded.
Government troops suffered seventeen enlisted men and one
CHDF killed while one officer and 12 enlisted men were wounded.
One APC was disassembled by an anti-tank weapon believed to
be Russian RPG2. An enemy leaflet, “Tantawan”, which was
captured in the operation, reported the loss of two hundred rebels,
among who was their commander, Datu Ali Sansaluna.

Almost simultaneously with the mortar shelling of Awang


airport on June 20 and with what appeared to be a diversionary
move, the rebels attacked three of the southwestern barrios of
Midsayap which was defended by the 42nd PC Company and
CHDFs. About 500 rebels occupied Tumbras, Salunayan and
Kapinpilan on June 21. From Carmen, a company of 27th Infantry
Battalion with an APC was dispatched to Salunayan and was im-
mediately engaged.

At barrios Nas, Molalal and Baliki, CHDFs bravely fought


off and repulsed the attackers. Rebels burned forty houses and
carted away 1,000 sacks of palay at Nas.

On June 28, “B” and “C” companies of the 27th Infantry


Battalion were deployed in the area and moved southwards to
Kapinpilan. There the government troops encountered the main
body of the rebels on July 3. A fierce firefight which included some
hand-to-hand combat that lasted till late in the afternoon. Finally,

163
the enemy withdrew under continuous pressure from the attacking
force and volleys from PA artillery and PAF gunships.

The combined PA/CHDF defense successfully contained


the rebel’s advance towards the town of Midsayap. This enabled
CEMCOM to easily move two battalions against the rebels. The
tide of battle had turned against the rebels and the AFP was finally
able to control the situation.

The government troops suffered two officers, seven men,


six trainees and one CHDF killed in action, most of them in the
battle of Kapinpilan, where an officer, sixteen enlisted personnel
(EP) and CHDFs were wounded in action. The enemy lost forty
four KIA (body count).

The rebels shifted their forces to the Kakar - Biniruan


Pagalamatan area in the eastern periphery of Cotabato City. On
June 28, a company of Scout Rangers of the 6th Infantry Brigade
under 2Lt. Evelion Pugna went off on a search and destroy
operation at Biniruan. The rangers caught the rebels apparently
off guard. As the battle progressed, elements of the 6th Infantry
Battalion reinforced the Scout Rangers with helicopters and C-47
gunships providing air support. The firefight lasted until three in
the afternoon.

Government troops killed forty three and recovered nine


FAL rifles, two carbines and one M1 rifle, while sustaining five KIA
and twelve WIA and MIA. After this battle, a three-week lull in
major rebel activity followed although the rebels continued to
harass the remote areas of North Cotabato and Maguindanao.
Soon afterwards the rebel forces massed again in the marshy
Biniruan area allegedly in preparation for the attack in Cotabato
City itself.

The Defense of Upi

Seven days prior to their attack, the rebels announced to


Upi residents that they would annihilate the HDF team and take
the town by all means. About six to seven hundred rebels as-

164
sembled at the foot of a mountain, four kilometers southwest of
town proper. They were armed with assorted high-powered
firearms and were led y commanders Sumail and Lao.

Upon hearing of the impending attack, the HDF team


under Lt Yalung strengthened its defense positions and alerted
the police and CHDF forces and local civilians. Demolition bombs,
warning devices, booby traps, mines and other explosives were
laid in strategic positions. A warning system was devised and
routes of withdrawal to barrio Daragao were designated. The
residents living on the outskirts of the town dug connecting
foxholes for their protection.

At around 4:30 A.M. on July 25, the Special Police Team


was awakened by successive gunfire at barrio Blensong,
approximately 1,500 meters west of Nuro Poblacion. At exactly
5:50 A.M. a demolition device exploded some fifty meters away
from a detachment located at the back of Nuro Central School.
This warned the team of the impending attack. A heavy exchange
of fire ensued in the northern and eastern portions of the town.
Two days later, strong rebel forces pushed the defending
government forces to withdraw northwestward of Bo. Daragao.
The rebels occupied the town proper, burned some government
buildings including the Upi Municipal Hall and the Nuro
Elementary School, and carted away rice, 124 heads of cattle and
other food supplies.

Defective communication equipment prevented CEMCOM


headquarters from sending in much-needed reinforcements on
time. CEMCOM quickly heli-lifted two companies of the 2nd
Infantry Battalion, one company of the 19th Infantry Battalion and
three Scout Ranger teams to the PLDT relay station to reinforce
the forces at Upi and to liberate the more than 3,000 civilian
hostages. To bolster the military forces, another company of the
15th Infantry Battalion followed later, thus bringing to four hundred
the total number of reinforcements.

After the liberation of Upi, the rebels laid low to recuperate


from their losses, to plan new strategies and to replenish their

165
Army troopers board a helicopter for deployment to Lebak.
(PAF Photograph)

Army elements conduct a mopping-up operation in Reina


Regente, 1974. (PAF Photograph)

166
manpower and supplies of food and ammunition. Soon the people
began a mass evacuation of the area. People in the barrios of Itil
and Ig-bay had already evacuated to the town proper of
Balabagan as early as the first two weeks of July.

The Recovery of Balabagan

The AFP camps in barrios Ig-bay and Itil in Balabagan


were attacked by some fifty to seventy fully-armed men on July 29
and August 3, 1974, respectively. Thereafter, various armed men
staged ambuscades at barrios Itil, Narra, Amaliango and Budas.
For two weeks, the Mamalos-Magindiman and other rebel groups
established and manned check points at Narra. They stopped four
civilian vehicles and herded together twelve civilians on August
11. They also fired at an approaching ¾ ton copra truck with five
passengers and ten security men composed of three enlisted men
and seven CHDF. In this accident, there was only one survivor, an
Army soldier. Rebel groups also surrounded twenty-five families at
the Altea plantation. The timely arrival of an Army company
prevented the massacre of these civilians. Four civilians had
already been killed. Hence, on the morning of September 3 1974,
the five-ship flotilla under NAVC of SOWESCOM landed south of
Balabagan to put an end to the rebel depredations in the area.

After a brief naval bombardment at 7:00 in the morning, the


2nd Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT) encountered slight
rebel resistance at the beach. One government trooper, Pfc.
Reynaldo Medina, was wounded in action. The assaulting units
swerved to the left, avoiding the open area, but were subjected to
heavy artillery fire. Four Marine companies maneuvered to the
north but were also met by heavy enemy fire. This confirmed their
belief that the enemy would launch an assault from the direction of
the Lobregat Compound. The Marines returned the enemy assault
thus, destroying the mosque where the rebels sought refuge. The
troops continued their pursuit forcing the rebels to withdraw. At
3:00 in the afternoon, the 2nd MBLT linked up with the 26th and 33rd
Infantry Battalions and regained control of the towns. They also
freed the evacuees in the Lobregat Compound. The rebels had

167
ransacked the homes in Balabagan and took food supplies and
burned the houses of Christians.

The local government had collapsed even before the


actual occupation of the town by the rebels. Two weeks after the
liberation of the poblacion, Lt. Col. Fortunato de Laza assumed
duties as the emergency military mayor of Balabagan.

Just before sundown on September 6, a convoy of one


APC, two 6 x 6 trucks, two civilian jeeps and weapons carrier
carrying thirty troopers and fifty evacuees from Malabang were
ambushed in barrio Malimok. The fierce fight claimed a total of
fifty-nine casualties, with three enlisted men killed in action, and
twenty-seven wounded in action, eighteen civilians killed and
seventeen wounded. As a result of this incident, AFP troops were
increased in number to protect the lives of the helpless civilians.

After the full-scale attack of Balabagan, the situation


greatly improved for the civilians and the local military forces. The
dissidents scattered into small groups, and lost their capacity to
become a major threat in conventional military tactics. They
therefore returned to guerilla warfare tactics.

Raguisi - Pinaring Operation

In the Cotabato province, particularly the Raguisi-Pinaring


area, reports indicated that civilians taken as hostages were being
indoctrinated by the rebels. The rebels also closed the Raguisi-
Pinaring road since the second week of August 1974. This area
was known to intelligence as part of a major rebel route from
Buldon to Cotabato City. It was also a source of rice supply for the
rebels in the Libungan-Toreta area.

The 33rd Infantry Battalion launched an operation on


August 19 to close the enemy route from north to south down to
the Kakar - Biniruan area to search and destroy the enemy at
barrio Raguisi - Pinaring and to liberate the civilian hostages held
there.

168
The plan of the operation was for “A” Company, 33rd
Infantry Battalion, to execute the main effort on the left, while “C”
Company was to act as a reserve in the rear. One section of
81mm mortar was to support each forward company and an APC
was to follow at a distance of one to two hundred meters behind,
with the group in command. The operation was delayed by twenty-
four hours because of transportation difficulties. The extra time
was used for further preparation and coordination.

In the early morning of August 20, with Col. Mariano P.


Adalem directing the operation, the mortar platoon opened fire on
suspected enemy positions along the route of advance. At 9:30
A.M., elements of “A” Company encountered a platoon-size rebel
force at grid coordinates 133022. A road block stopped the
infantry advance when the enemy opened fire. The APC moved to
the lead and neutralized the enemy machine gun and provided
covering fire for the maneuvering elements. Shortly thereafter, the
enemy withdrew southward to a thickly vegetated ravine as they
were pursued by platoon of “C” Company. Automatic fires from a
hut wounded the platoon leader and the platoon was pinned down
for a while. A few minutes later, the platoon regained the initiative
and continued to pursue the rebels.

At 11:00 A.M., the battalion advanced further east


approximately 200 meters before Raguisi. As it advanced, the
rebels opened fire from positions on both sides of the road.
Enemy fire was immediately neutralized by the accompanying
106mm recoilless rifle. The mortar section also provided fire
support while the units maneuvered. At 2:00 P.M., barrio Raguisi
was captured from the rebels. Several cavans of rice, sacks of
palay, cartons of cigarettes and a large quantity of perishable
items were seized.

The battalion regrouped for the next assault at barrio


Pinaring. Under the cover of mortar fires, the battalion approached
the barrio. Information from the fleeing civilians revealed that as
the government troops approached, the rebels ordered the
hostages to seek refuge in a school house in the vicinity of the
second Pinaring Bridge. Instead of complying with these orders,

169
the hostages scampered in different directions and ran for their
safety. At 6:00 P.M., three hundred civilian refugees and hostages
started meeting the troops and were processed and interviewed
by MSU operatives. They revealed that during the night, rebel
reinforcements arrived and about five hundred were less than a
kilometer away. The battalion commander ordered interdiction fire
along the banks of Maguindanao River. The advance to Pinaring
was halted for the day with the onset of darkness. A perimeter
defense was organized and mortars were emplaced to cover likely
avenues of approach.

In the morning of August, the battalion resumed the


operation towards Pinaring. At 9:00 in the morning, Company “A”
engaged a group of rebels in a brief firefight where one trainee
was wounded. The rebels broke loose and ran. Pursuit of the
rebels was not affected as the troops were diverted away from
their objective. Pinaring was secured with very little fighting. The
troops thereafter proceeded to Ragasan. However, the rebels had
already fled.

On their return, the units took the same phalanx formation


they had earlier adopted. Company “A” was in reserve. The
civilians were inside the box-like formation, following the trucks.

In the afternoon, the column started moving. The flanks


provided their own security one hundred fifty to two hundred
meters away. The forward elements provided advance guard. At
1:45 P.M., as the leading elements reached ground coordinates
420303, the enemy fired an anti-tank gun at the lead APC,
wounding two soldiers. The APC’s engine stalled and its
armament failed to fire.

As if the explosion of the anti-tank was a signal, the enemy


opened fire at the front and left flanks of the battalion. The troops
countered with all their available firepower. The enemy, using
M79s, wounded four trainees. As training subsided a little, the
column was directed to move out of the killing zone. The APC
recovered and blazed at the enemy positions as it set the pace for
the lead elements. The rear security forces prodded the civilians

170
to move faster. At this time, a helicopter that had been earlier
requested arrived. This rendered suppressive fire on the enemy
positions and observed any movement on the enemy side. The
column had only gone a short distance when the commanding
officer of the Company “B” reported that his company was pinned
down by enemy fires. Since the lead column stretched to about
one and a half kilometers, the elements halted and held their
ground. The second APC moved back and rescued Company “B”.
Soon, enemy pressure eased and Company “B” was able to catch
up, but not after one trainee was killed and one enlisted man
wounded.

A rebel position was sighted as the units advanced


towards Raguisi’s main road. The 106mm recoilless rifle fired but
missed the target, while the APC provided covering fire. The
rebels withdrew after fending off the government troops. The
government side lost two soldiers, and wounded one. A few
minutes later, the commanding officer of Company “B” radioed for
support as they could no longer contain the intense enemy fires
coming from the different directions. The battalion commander in
turn requested for another reinforcements, an APC and a platoon
each from the 6th and the 19th Infantry Battalions.

On September 8, Company “A,” 32nd Infantry Battalion


engaged a rebel force of about thirty to forty men, two kilometers
west of Bugasan. The exchange of fire lasted for an hour after
which the rebels withdrew towards the Sarking area.

On September 10, the Battalion CP of the 27th Infantry


Battalion was relocated at the vicinity of Patot with “A” Company
at Hill 238, five kilometers east of Orandang; “B” Company at Hill
288, eight kilometers east of Orandang. The battalions
continuously conducted combat patrols in their areas of
responsibility. On the same day, the 32nd Infantry Battalion
established its CP one kilometer north of Orandang and its APC at
Bura Crossing, one kilometer west of Ramang Edcor. The same
day, the PC battalion detachment was attacked by about sixty
rebels. Two civilians were wounded and a child was killed.

171
Meanwhile, 2/3 Infantry Brigade received reports that there
were about one thousand rebels deployed at Bura Crossing up to
the vicinity of Buldon. Based on these reports, an APC of 2/3
Infantry Brigade left Parang to join the 32nd Infantry Battalion
which in turn was to link up with the 27th Infantry Battalion. Both
battalions advanced and occupied Buldon on September 12
without enemy resistance because the reports proved to be false.

At 8:00 of the same day, the commanding officer of the


th
57 PC Battalion aboard a Kennedy jeep, followed by a ¾ ton
truck loaded with the food was ambushed at the high ground near
the Ambal Detachment. The timely arrival of reinforcements, an
APC battalion of 2/3 Infantry Brigade and a scout car of the PC
battalion enroute to Parang from Buldon caused the rebels to
withdraw. The government troops suffered three KIA and six WIA.

On September 13, the rear CP of the 27th Infantry Battalion


while enroute to join the rest of the battalion encountered a rebel
force at a bridge in Edcor town. Three enlisted men were
wounded. The following day, the AFP of the 2/3 Infantry Brigade
returned to Camp Parang. On its way, it was able to reinforce
three teams of PC Special Forces that were ambushed. The
teams were on their way to reinforce a PC detachment which was
attacked earlier by rebels. One officer was killed. Two enlisted
men and six others were wounded.

The Buldon Operation was terminated on September 14


after a community meeting was held by the Brigade Commander
at Buldon. The 32nd Infantry Battalion left for its base in Salunayah
Midsayap, while the 27th Infantry Battalion remained at Buldon to
maintain a garrison there in Mercedes, Edcor.

The attacks by small groups of rebels against the AFP


persisted in the vicinity even after the operation. On September 15
at around 5:45 P.M., about thirty rebels ambushed a scout car of
the 57th PC Battalion at Macasandang Creek, Parang.

The threat to Cotabato City and Awang Airport continued


to exist. In Buldon town and its immediate environs, however,

172
denial operations and its organization of more CHDFs helped
stabilized the peace and order situation.

Amphibious Operation in Colong - Colong

On September 8, 1974, two platoons of Company “A”, 19th


Infantry Battalion had an engagement with the enemy. “C”
Company, 25th Infantry Battalion, managed to recover two Toyotas
and one Ford Fiera which had been taken by the enemy.

On September 15, “A” Company, 19th Infantry Battalion


together with some CHDF members was attacked and the bridge
at Sitio Kanipan was blown up by rebels. Elements of “C” Com-
pany went in pursuit of the rebels but failed to overcome them and
were met with strong counter fires. For almost two weeks of
conducting pursuit operations the government forces suffered an
alarming number of twenty casualties. Because of this, it was
decided to launch an offensive operation against the rebels. The
poblacion with its rugged terrain afforded the rebels good ambush
positions, and for the AFP to succeed in its operation, realized that
the sea had to be utilized to penetrate the rebel stronghold.

Action with the rebels continued. Philippine Army soldiers


under Lt. Clavel recovered materials owned by Meyer Hauser
Philippines Inc., which had earlier been stolen by rebels. Four
days later, “C” Company of the 25th and “A” Company of the 19th
Infantry Battalions beat back the enemy in another encounter. On
that same day, teams under Captain Colita and Lt. Peregrino,
together with CHDF men, engaged undetermined rebel forces at
Bo. Sitangkagan.

A joint Philippine Marine - Philippine Army amphibious


operation was planned to capture rebel stronghold in the Kraan -
Colong - Colong - Baliango area. The operation was put into
action on September 22, with the first wave of Marines embarking
at 6:45 in the morning. The landing area was a strategic point as it
would provide Army units with clear jump-off points for subsequent
operations.

173
The Marine Battalion Landing Team and its reserve were
landed together with one APC and a 106mm recoilless rifle (RR)
section. While the landing units encountered no enemy opposition,
the 3rd Marine Company (MC) received heavy fires from the rebels
in the Kraan River.

After securing the beachhead, the first objective, Libun,


was secured at 7:30 in the morning, With the 8th MC on the left
and the 7th MC on the right, together with the APC and the 106mm
RR moved towards the second objective, which was secured
without even the slightest resistance from the enemy.

The clearing of the first two barrios was breakthrough as


these were used as points of entry for a deeper penetration
towards the attainment of other objectives. In the morning of
September 23 the companies moved towards Objective 3 via
Colong-Colong. Elements of the 25th Infantry Battalion arrived
shortly via pumpboat at Objective 4, relieving “A” Company, 19th
Infantry Battalion, which returned to base. On September 25,
government troops, after clearing the area, began reboarding LST
93 for the trip home.

At the end of the operation, enemy materials captured


included one cal. 22 rifle, two hand grenades, twelve 7.62 mm
rounds, sixty rounds of cal. 30 M1 ammunition, twenty rounds cal.
30 machine gun ammunition, two camouflage jackets, four
magazine pouches for a carbine, wrapped in paper marked
“Bangsa Moro Republic,” an assortment of medicines and various
enemy documents.

Defense of South Cotabato

In response to the appeal to the President for military


assistance by the governor and the mayors of South Cotabato,
meetings at GHQ and HPC were held to further assess the
situation in South Cotabato. Subsequently, a joint meeting of
military officers and civilian officials was held in General Santos
City on September 14 1974 to assess the peace and order
situation in the respective municipalities.

174
It was reported in these meetings that the NPA was
becoming more active in its recruitment activities. Armed, unified
groups sporting KM patches were often reportedly sighted. These
groups continued to sabotage government installations in the
more seriously affected areas. Some barrio folks had abandoned
their homes and evacuated to safer places.

In response to the clamor of the residents, the AFP


provided additional firearms to the CHDF, and shifted one bat-
talion of the ½ Infantry Brigade to the South. On October 8, civilian
trucks from the Highway District Engineering Office arrived at the
Command Post to participate in operations to be carried out by the
15th Infantry Battalion (“A” and “C” Companies), the 512 ECB, 52nd
Engineering Brigade, and CHDF units from different barrios of
South Cotabato. The main objective was Bo. Lampari, while two
other objectives were Bos. Lambanga and Lasalome.

From October 10 to 30, 1974, military operations were


conducted in the municipalities of Tiboli, Banga, Tupi, Polomolok
and Surallah, all in South Cotabato. Earlier, rebel attacks had
resulted in the death of four CHDFs and the burning of a number
of houses.

On October 10, the command group with “C” Company


from Koronadal reaches Lamian, Surallah at 6:00 in the evening.
The company established contact with an estimated rebel force of
350 men. Mines and a heavy volume of fire from well-entrenched
rebel positions slowed the advance of the troops who suffered
three KIA and thirteen wounded. Known enemy concentrations
and positions on Hill 864 were subjected to artillery fires. The
following day, a C-47 aircraft strafed and bombed known enemy
positions.

In the morning of October 15, the 512 ECB, with ICHDF


support from Tupi and Tampakan, occupied the so-called Upper
Village. The enemy withdrew towards Lansalome and the place
was subjected to an artillery bombardment. As a result of this
action, four rebels were killed. At 1:50 P.M., an auditor with a

175
small party of men arrived at the CP and gave the latest in-
formation about the movement and activities of the enemy.

Enemy positions at Hill 684 were again subjected to


artillery fires while a mortar section and a security platoon were
brought to Bo. Tablao, Tupi. On the 18th of October, a platoon
from “A” Company was dispatched to escort the inhabitants of
Sitio Lambalok to safety. The team secured the civilians and
afterward engaged in mopping up operations from one barrio to
another. The first platoon, “A” Company, with two teams of TIboli
police and CHDF men ambushed the rebels from Lamafus to
Lambuling. This time five rebels were killed.

Later, elements of the 512 ECB and the CHDF/Police unit


of Tupi and Tampakan encountered a rebel force of about one
hundred men at the upper village while seizing Hill 974. They
attacked and took Talayok Peak. As they left Lambangan, they
again engaged the rebels in a brief encounter. Three rebels were
killed and several rounds of ammunition were captured. A woman
rebel surrenderee turned in voluminous documents, books,
pictures and flags. The encounters cost the government one
trooper killed and one wounded.

On October 25, “A” Company at Lambangan was


continually harassed by rebels from 6:45 A.M. to 8:30 P.M. One
draftee on the government side was killed, but the company held
its ground. The movement of rebel forces continued until October
30 when the operation was officially terminated and the rebels had
been driven out.

Operation Molave (Solon - Tariken Complex)

An uneasy peace settled in Mindanao during the period of


Ramadan in October as Muslim refugees in Palimbanga returned
to their respective homes. By November 25, some 5,770 refugees
had been attended to by the military in coordination with the
Department of Social Welfare and other relief agencies.

Towards the end of the Ramadan, it was expected that the

176
MNLF forces would ease up on military action and intensify their
agitation propaganda activities together with building up logistical
support. Intelligence reports, however, indicated the massing of
forces north of the Rio Grande River and their movement towards
Cotabato City. Similarly, it was estimated that enemy activities
would escalate after the religious feast. To prevent this, the
commander of CEMCOM directed the 2/3 Infantry Brigade to
attack the Solon-Tarikan-Tapayan Complex, which was a hotbed
of rebels who continually harassed the city.

As early as 6:30 A.M. on October 9, 1974, elements of “C”


Company, 6th Infantry Battalion, encountered rebel forces at
Barangay Panatan, Sultan Kudarat. The enemy withdrew towards
the Matingen area leaving behind ammunition, while suffering five
killed.

On October 14, units of the 2/3 Infantry Brigade started


cordoning the Solon-Tariken area. The 32nd Infantry Battalion
started for the assigned assembly area in the vicinity of GC
398030 while elements of the 11th Infantry Battalion occupied its
assembly area at GS 3811. The 32nd Infantry Battalion moved
northwest and promptly engaged the enemy.

The Special Operation Teams (SOT), composed of forty-


six men of the 2/3 Infantry Brigade, occupied fishponds on GC
332038 with navy assistance. The 2/3 Infantry Brigade established
its CP at the Sarmiento Compound. Shelling and naval gunfire
were then conducted at several target areas. Fighting continued
for two weeks with continuous artillery and naval gunfire, causing
the enemy to finally withdraw leaving their dead scattered in the
area. Elements of the 32nd Infantry Battalion and the 6th Infantry
Battalion reached their target areas without difficulty afterward. On
November 14 the operation was terminated with the units
disposed in their respective target areas.
The entire operation inflicted a heavy toll on the enemy
with 345 KIA (a body count of 171 and 174 estimated killed), and
undetermined number of WIA. The government incurred a total of
102 casualties: 19 KIA, 82 WIA and 1 MIA. Military and civilian
emissaries headed by ex-Senator Domocao Alonto were sent out

177
to contact leaders of the MNLF. As time went on, however, news
came in that the enemy had intensified recruitment and pro-
curement of supplies, and continued to infiltrate workers in South
Cotabato while building up forces in North Cotabato. The military
offensive was thus resumed. The rebels directed their forces to
the municipality of Carmen.

Carmen Operation

On November 15, 1974 at 4:30 in the morning, Carmen, in


North Cotabato, was attacked by 500 rebels with high-powered
weapons, dynamite and fragmentation grenades. Earlier, they had
razed the Lumayong ferry station and had burned as well the
boats plying the Carmen-Kabacan route in the Carmen River in
order to isolate the 418th PC Company. These actions caused the
death of two BPH personnel. After this, the rebels established
blocking forces in the vicinity of Barrio Lumayong and the
Kabacan River. Then they executed a three-pronged attack
northeast and southeast of the town. The rebels from Datu Piang,
Buluan, Buldon, Cotabato City, Carmen, Pagulangan and Pikit
were led by Commander Johnny Taya of the enemy’s Zone IV.
Another prominent sub-commander was Norodin Matalam, who
was the son of ex-governor Matalam.

The simulated attacks were directed towards the poblacion


and the barrios of General Luna and Ugalingan. More than two
hundred heavily armed rebels engaged one platoon of the 418th
PC Company at the poblacion in heavy fighting. The rebels were
armed with at least one M79 and other automatic weapons which
resulted to eleven soldiers killed in the action.

At the height of the attack, the lone PC platoon was


practically surrounded and could not respond to the frantic calls
for help from the two barrios. The CHDF’s, with a handful of
soldiers who happened to pass by, fought off the rebels furiously,
thus preventing them from taking control over the two barrios.
However, the rebels were able to occupy the eastern portion of
the poblacion, the public market, school building and the
temporary PC barracks.

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The attack was flashed out to higher headquarters
immediately and the 32nd Infantry Battalion although still in the
process of moving to Salunayan, Midsayap, was ordered to
proceed to Carmen. At 8:00 A.M., the PAF C-47 gunship
requested by 2/3 Infantry Brigade took off from Awang Airport to
give support for the Carmen operation. On board was Capt.
Bautista, the Brigade S-2, who coordinated the airstrike on enemy
ground concentrations simultaneous with the movement of ground
reinforcements. By 10:00 A.M., the brigade control group departed
for Kabacan by helicopter, and shortly thereafter, the Patrol Craft
Force of 2/3 Infantry Battalion with only one operating truck had
difficulty in transporting its troops, and the movement of its two
companies, A and B, was not completed until 3:00P.P.M., that
day.

Meanwhile, the deployed platoon of the 418th PC


Company, having only thirteen men left can no longer hold its
position and thereafter redeployed at the municipal building. They
were assaulted many times, with the enemy closing in the 200
yards, but each time, the troopers were able to repel the rebels.
The platoon guarded the perimeter of the municipal building where
more than 4,000 civilians had taken refuge.

With the rebel force at the ferry site in Lumbayong, the 32nd
Infantry Battalion moved along the Kabacan River for about three
and a half kilometers, crossing safely to Bo. Aringay. From there,
they proceeded northward, crossed the Pulang River at Bo. Pidtad
and scoured Bo. Ugalingan. It was finally cleared of rebels by 7:00
P.M. by elements of 32nd Infantry Battalion were on the Carmen
side of Pulangi River. By this time, rebels had withdrawn from
Carmen poblacion, leaving behind hostages and burning a large
portion of the town proper.

A team from the 418th PC Company surveyed the town


proper and assisted in the rehabilitation operations. At this time, a
large group of the retreating enemy, crossed the Pulangi River,
pursued by “B” Company which fighting in this area for four days.
On November 20, 1974, “C” Company was able to cross the river

179
and forced the enemy to retreat towards north. The enemy
eventually divided into three groups along the river. They then
scattered into small groups, while they were pursued by the
government troops. Although broken up into smaller groups, the
rebels continued to harass some CHDF perimeter defenses.
These incidents forced the government troops to continue their
assault at Bo. Limbalod, Kabakan, and Bo. Ugalingan, Carmen.

The attack claimed the lives of approximately one hundred


rebels, with an undetermined number of wounded. The govern-
ment troops suffered twenty three KIA and twenty WIA. In ad-
dition, there were two civilian families missing, about six hundred
families were rendered homeless and one hundred twenty work
animals were captured by the rebels. Total losses were estimated
at P1.5 M.

Tangkal - Munai Operation

Since the recovery of Balabagan, Lanao Civic Action Force


(LANCAF) did not have any offensive operation in its area of
responsibility until January 6, 1975. Meanwhile, the rebels started
harassing the civilians and the government troops. This renewal of
hostilities by the rebels led to a new offensive operation in the
Tangkal-Munai area, which had long been the Findlay Miller
Lumber Company that refused to pay the rebels and instead
terminated its logging operations on January 6, 1975. The rebels
retaliated by destroying three bridges leading to the Tangkal
municipality, confiscating two bulldozers and conducting am-
buscades on buses and cargo trucks at Tubod and Kolambugan.

To destroy the enemy to the aforementioned areas,


LANCAF launched an operation on January 24, 1975 with the 10th
Infantry Battalion as the main force and the 29th Infantry Battalion
as the blocking force. The 10th Infantry Battalion immediately went
to Pantaon and reached the objective with out any enemy
resistance, then proceeded towards Tangkal, the main objective,
while the 29th Infantry Battalion established positions at
Magsaysay, Lanao del Norte.

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The diminishing resistance of the rebels gave the
government troops a better chance to scour the area. At noon,
January 29, the 10th Infantry Battalion reconnaissance patrol
discovered rebel documents containing sketches of enemy
defenses, emplacements and withdrawals.

The attacking elements of 10th Infantry Batttalion occupied


objective Alpha (Tangkal) without rebel opposition. Later, the units
established a Command Post at Libertad, Kauswagan, in
preparation for operations in Tambo proper. On February 10, “B”
and “C” Companies of the 10th Infantry Battalion established peri-
meter defense around the Tambo school building. Five days later,
the commandeered bulldozers of the Findlay Miller Lumber
Company were recovered by 29th Infantry Battalion while “B”
Company, 10th Infantry Battalion, destroyed ten rebel huts. At
10:40 A.M., 29th Infantry Battalion encountered the rebels in
fortified positions three hundred meters north of Bo. Dalama. After
a brief firefight, the rebels withdrew. At the foothills, Southwest of
Bo. Dalama, “C” Company, 10th Infantry Battallion, clashed with an
undetermined number of rebels. There was no casualty incurred
by both sides in these encounters.

On February 17, one platoon of the 10th Infantry Battalion


seized a hill three kilometers of Dalama. However, the rebels,
managed to escape before the troops arrived. The next day, “B”
Company, 10th Infantry Battalion, seized a rebel concentration
post eight hundred meters northwest of Bo. Dalama. At noon,
February 29, objective Bravo (Munai) was finally captured with
minimum resistance. The operation was terminated on February
20, 1975.

Operation Thunderball

In December 1974, river traffic of Central Cotabato was


opened to the public. This gave the rebels the opportunity to bring
in more logistics from outside sources, thus escalating the MNLF’s
determination to attack the Cotabato City and Awang complex.

For the rebels, this area was more significant because

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Cotabato City is the symbol of government authority in the pro-
vince of Maguindanao. The MNLF started sporadic mortar attacks
on the city spreading fear and apprehension among the populace,
thereby giving the rebels a psychological advantage. The rebels
also fought with government forces in the Kakar-Biniruan complex.
With this prevailing situation, Commander Central Command
(COMCEMCOM) assembled the Brigade Commanders of the 1st
and 2nd Brigades, the RACMIN deputy and CASFCOT pilots on
January 25, 1975, for a coordinating con-ference at the Tactical
Operations Center of Headquarters, CEMCOM about Operations
Order (OPORD) 2 code-named “Thunderball.” It was to be
conducted in three phases:

Phase 1: To destroy forces in Central Mindanao with the


1/3 Infantry Brigade coming from Taviran towards Tumbao. The
2/3 Infantry Brigade was to continue the advance towards
Libungan Torreta from Pigkawayan and at the same time execute
a diversionary attack towards Bolibod, Cotabato City.
Phase 2: The 15th Infantry Battalion of 2/3 Infantry Brigade
was to move on February 3 from South Cotabato to clear the
Kakar-Biniruan area. The 32nd Infantry Battalion was to move
towards Libungan, Torreta.
Phase 3: 1/3 Infantry Brigade was to clear the area from
Tamontaka River to Taviran. The 15th Infantry Battalion and 2/3
Infantry Brigade was to occupy strategic points along the Rio
Grande.

At 5:00 A.M. January 30, “A” Company, 21st Infantry


Battalion, secured the crossing. “B” Company started the drive
eastward, but thirty minutes later, received heavy fire from the
enemy and was pinned down. Both companies were heavily
engaged in three flanks: forward, left and right. Despite air
support, the government troops were forced to slowly withdraw
from area. This encounter resulted in the death of four govern-
ment troopers and twenty rebels.

Likewise, at 5:00 A.M., the Command Post of 21st Infantry


Battalion was harassed by the rebels who were positioned at the
opposite bank of the Tamontaka River. This resulted in one

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enlisted man killed and six others wounded. Shortly thereafter,
heavy fighting ensued up to 7:00 P.M., Radio contact was lost
among the troops, resulting in a disorderly retrograde movement
northward. The enemy attack grew stronger, leading to hand-to-
hand fighting. Government troops sustained heavy losses: forty-
six M16 rifles, thirty-five M1Garand, one Bar, two .45 cal. Pistols,
two .30 cal. LMGs, five PRC 77s, 11KIAs, 14 WIAS, and 21 MIAs.
One soldier escaped from the rebels later.

Elements of the “B” Company, 27th Infantry Battalion and


the “B” Company, 35th Infantry Battalion, jumped off for their
objective Bay view and were soon engaged in fighting the rebels.
This resulted in three KIA and 14 WIA on the government side and
about forty KIA on the rebels’ side.

The advancing elements of the 32nd Infantry Battalion were


also strongly repulsed by heavy machine gun and automatic fires
from the dug-in positions of the enemy which slowed down their
movement towards their objectives.

With the unsuccessful attempt of the 21st Infantry Battalion


to capture Tumbao, COMCEMCOM resumed the offensive. This
battalion, known as one of the most hard-hitting veteran outfits of
the Philippine Army, displayed its usual aggressiveness as had
been shown in previous campaign. The support of the operation
thru the river traffic along the Mindanao River was restricted. Road
and control checkpoints were established and complemented by
cutting the supply lines of the rebels. In the meantime, the 21st
Infantry Battalion shifted its efforts to recovery and river-control
operations.

Kakar - Biniruan - Libungan - Toreta Operations

On February 4, the operating units together with the 15th


Infantry Battalion pursed their mission to remove the mortar threat
in the area, three kilometers southeast of Cotabato City. The 15th
Infantry Battalion, the leading battalion, carved out an area seven
hundred meters across the creek. Three companies were
deployed in a blocking position at the left rear, along Kakar creek.

183
Elements of the 15th Infantry Battalion crossed Kakar creek with
the use of a makeshift bridge. While crossing, the enemy opened
fire at them, wounding the battalion executive officer. The timely
arrival of air and tank support enabled the troops to cross the
bridge.

Simultaneously, elements of the 32nd Infantry Battalion


were also continuously attacked by the rebels. At this stage, the
units had been short of 81mm mortar rounds for about four days,
and could only use small-arms fire. At 2:45 P.M., the troops while
advancing towards El Dorado, encountered eighty rebels around
eighty meters northeast of Hill 21. A tank fired at approximately
forty rebels and allowed the troops to finally cross the Libungan
River at El Dorado. Elements of “A” and “B” Companies, 32nd
Infantry Battalion, and “C” Company, 27th Infantry Battalion,
advanced and captured Hill 21 and the Libungan Torreta towns on
February 5 at 11 A.M.

Tamontaka River - Tumbao - Taviran River Operations

Since the start of the operation, frontline units of the 15th


Infantry Battalion had been continually harassed by the rebels.
The 7th Infantry Battalion was moved on February 3 from
Balabagan to Cotabato City. “C” Company, 7th Infantry Battalion
relieved “B” Company, 21st Infantry Battalion at Taviran, Dinaig.
Thereafter, several encounters ensued between the troops and
the rebels.

The rebels alternately attacked the perimeters of the two


battalions. On March 22, troops of the 15th Infantry Battalion
executed a clearing operation with “A” and “B” Companies on the
north and “C” Company on the south side of the Tamontaka River.

Rushing to the scene, 32nd Infantry Battalion fended-off


attacks and inched their way 3.5 kilometers northeast of Tumbao.
The 15th Infantry Battalion consolidated its forces at Biniruan and
proceeded to Taviran. On March 16, 32nd Infantry Battalion
occupied Tumbao after slight rebel resistance at the municipal

184
building. Elements of “A” Company linked up with the elements of
15th Infantry Battalion along the Rio Grande River.

The operation was finally terminated in March 1975, with


the successful implementation of Operation “Thunder ball.” The
offensive crippled the enemy, thus resulting in full government
control of the central plains of Maguindanao and the riverline
traffic. Government losses were as follows: 4 KIA, 174 WIA and
22 MIA. The enemy suffered 237 KIA (body count) and 304
estimated WIA.

Thereafter, CEMCOM organized the Cotabato Garrison


Command comprising the Cotabato Police Force and the 454th PC
Company, with the main task of defending and maintaining peace
in Cotabato City Col. Metoker Lamping was designated Garrison
Commander and was also given operational control over the
elements of “B“ Company of the 2nd Composite Military Police
within Cotabato City.

Operations in Southwestern Mindanao (Sulu Operations)

In late June 1974, remnants of Luuk dissident forces were


still smarting from the reverses they suffered at the hands of the
government troops during the Kambing and Lahing Operations
during the month of April and May. After suffering these defeats,
the rebels realized that the government forces would not cease
their offensive operations and that the next AFP military objective
would be Tayungan. Reports received by the SOWESCOM re-
vealed that there was a continuous movement of dissident groups
to join their comrades in the vicinity of Tayungan, to deliver
ammunition of different types including 81mm mortar shells. They
established strong positions, fought against government
reinforcements, and landed more firearms, crew- served weapons
and ammunition with the intention of carrying out attacks against
the AFP base. 2/1 Infantry Brigade headquarters sensed a large
scale operation. The unit prepared to assault the enemy to pre-
empt the rebel’s projected attack.

On June 30, 1974 at 5 P.M. the Commanding Officer of 2/1

185
Infantry Brigade cleared with General Alfonso Alcoseba,
Commanding General of the 4th Infantry Division, the plan to
launch OPORD No. 6, or OPLAN KAPATID ECHO, within three
days using the 14th, 18th and 24th Infantry Battalions on an
overland operation, while the 15th Infantry Battalion would relieve
the 18th Infantry Battalion of the Camp Andres defense for the
duration of the operation. The operation plan called for the seizure
and occupation of Mt. Tayungan and vicinity by the 14th Infantry
Battalion. The 18th Infantry Battalion would clear the south slope of
Mt. Urot and the 24th Infantry Battalion would clear the North
Slope. The 15th Infantry Battalion would take over the perimeter
defense of Camp Andres and would provide security along MSR.
Alpha Battery, IAR and on an APC section would provide general
support to the operating units.

The operating units started their operations towards


Tayungan on July 2, 1974 at 8:00 in the morning. The 18th Infantry
Battalion and the 14th Infantry Battalion assembled at the vicinity
of a road junction where unit commanders conferred and
completed details for movement towards their respective
objectives. They agreed that Lt. Col. Tapia would be the overall
commander.

When the front elements arrived at Grid Coordinate


(GC109607), the crew of the lead APC sighted an armed group at
the vicinity of GC 094667. Rebel groups then fired at the 18th
Infantry Battalion’s forward elements who immediately returned
fire. The firefight lasted for about fifteen minutes, with the 14th
Infantry Battalion machine gun section providing supporting fires.
A mortar shell made direct hit on the rebel position which
dispersed them. The operating units then resumed their forward
movement.

At 11:00 A.M., the lead APC was again subjected to


intense enemy fires at GC 085606 by dissidents positioned on
both sides of the road and behind a four feet thick tree that was
placed as a roadblock. A heavy firefight ensued for about thirty
minutes. Mortars of the 14th Infantry Battalion delivered supporting
fires until enemy pressure ceased and the firefight ended with

186
undetermined casualties to the enemy. Three officers and four
troopers of the 14th Infantry Battalion were wounded by an enemy
M79 shell which landed at the vicinity of the Command Group.
These casualties were evacuated to Camp Andres.

The attacking battalions resumed their forward movement


only to discover that aside from the road block, the enemy had
destroyed the culvert bridge over the Tubig Samin. The attempts
of the troops to remove the fallen tree were futile. The troops
decided to bypass the roadblock and the APC created a lane to
allow vehicles to pass on the left side of the roadblock. The 14th
Infantry Battalion troopers, meanwhile, attempted to repair the
culvert bridge. They could have resumed the forward movement at
6:00 P.M. but the unit commanders decided to settle for the night
and established a perimeter defense.

At 6:45 P.M., around hundred rebels attacked the entire


perimeter defense with intense automatic rifle fires. Heavy fighting
ensued up to the wee hours of the morning with the operating
units inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. The 14th Infantry
Battalion suffered four WIA who were all evacuated to the rear at
the break of the day. On the morning of July 3, a heavy rain fell
and most unit commanders were hesitant to resume the
movement towards Tayungan. At 9:00 A.M., the Brigade Com-
mander arrived and conferred with the unit commanders. After
listening to the views of his unit commanders, the Brigade
Commander decided to move three battalions in a box-type
formation, to bypass the roadblock, one APC had to shuttle back
and forth for an hour to toe the vehicles of the attacking battalions
over the muddy and improvised side road. The formation moved
slowly forward with gunfires breaking out from time to time in the
24th Infantry Battalion sector. At 1:00 P.M., the Command Group
reached the vicinity of Bo. Tayungan. The Brigade Commander
directed the emplacement of the 18th Infantry and the 14th Infantry
Battalion mortars aimed at suspected enemy position atop Mt.
Tayungan. After observing the peak of Mt. Tayungan from various
positions around the base, the Brigade Commander ordered the
14th Infantry Battalion to assault the top of the said mountain. By
2:00 P.M., the 14th Infantry Battalion had cleared the top of Mt.

187
Tayungan without enemy contact. Atop Mt. Tayungan the Brigade
Commander and staff conferred with the unit commanders and
after discussing the various options, decided on holding Mt.
Tayungan and vicinity for a while.

At 6:00 P.M., the 14th Infantry Battalion had completed its


perimeter defense of Mt. Tayungan and immediate vicinity; 24th
Infantry Battalion occupied the market place and the 18th Infantry
Battalion moved back to cover the culvert area at Tubig Samin.

On July 4, radial patrols were conducted by the three


battalions about two kilometers from their defense positions.
There were no signs of the enemy but the 24th Infantry Battalion
patrol discovered enemy documents and materials in the area
while the 18th Infantry Battalion patrol found plastic explosives.

On July 6, the operating units, satisfied that there were no


more rebels at Mt. Tayungan and vicinity, pulled out of the area
and returned to Camp Andres. On the whole, the operations
resulted in thirteen KIA on the government side and thirty six KIA
and sixty WIA on the enemy side.

Operation Ganti

In late August 1974, intelligence reports indicated a


concentration of rebels numbering around six hundred in the
vicinity of Bo. Pasil, Indanan, Sulu. Subsequent intelligence
reports further revealed that the leaders of MINSUPALA had
conducted a conference somewhere at Mt. Tumatangis, Indanan,
Sulu. Present in this conference were rebel leaders from Palawan,
Zamboanga City, Basilan, Lanao, Cotabato and Davao with the
leaders in Sulu headed by Bian Lay Lim, Alvarez Isnadji, Sikas
Shidbad and Tawi-tawi leaders headed by Hadji Isahac Tahir. The
rebel leaders conferred on their plans to conduct simultaneous
operations against government forces starting September 3 to
coincide with their celebration of MESFU, the Muslim equivalent of
All Saints Day.

188
In order to frustrate the rebels’ plans of attacking Jolo and
to clear the Indanan area of rebel forces, the ¼ Infantry Brigade
under the command of Col. Rillera launched Operation “Ganti”.
The concept of operations called for the 18th Infantry Battalion to
move from Headquarters, Busbus, Jolo to Tagbak, Indanan, Sulu
and to exchange Area of Responsibility with the 14th Infantry
Battalion. Movements would start with “C” Company, followed by
the “B” Company and “A” Company in that order. The 18th Infantry
Battalion mission was to defend Indanan from rebel incursions
and to conduct offensive combat operations.

On August 27 at 4:00 in the morning, Composite


Company, 8th Infantry Battalion, jumped off from Busbus, Jolo and
moved towards Kugas, arriving there at 10:00 A.M. At 10:30, the
government troops encountered the rebels under Commander
Paramain in the vicinity of Kugas. Firefight ensued resulting in the
wounding of six troops. The enemy withdrew eastward. After-
wards, the troops thoroughly searched the area and discovered
several enemy fortifications including a bunker and air raid shelter
which they destroyed. The soldiers also recovered arms, spare
parts and documents from rebel houses. After the search, the 8th
Infantry Battalion moved and established a perimeter defense at
Tagbak, Indanan.

Since this initial encounter with elements of the 8th Infantry


Battalion, the rebels in Indanan, Sulu avoided contact with Army
troops. In the following month, there was only one sniping incident
that occurred in the area.

Rebel activities shifted from Indanan to other towns of


Sulu. In September 1974, two APCs dispatched by the ¼ Infantry
Brigade to escort the 56th PC Bn from Jolo to Basilan, Talipao
were ambushed on the way back at the vicinity of Badang and
Pantao Hill. The troops defended themselves well and no one was
hurt while the enemy withdrew with undetermined casualties.

Meanwhile in the AOR of the 14th Infantry Battalion, rebel


forces conducted harassment operations of military installations
and personnel. On September 14, at 8:00 A.M., three enlisted

189
personnel of “C” Company, 14th Infantry Battalion, while on their
way to a combat outpost approximately four hundred yards
outside their perimeter defense, were cornered by heavily-armed
rebels in the vicinity of GC 823692 Jolo. For about five minutes,
the government troopers returned fire but they were outnumbered
and in a disadvantageous position and were killed in action. The
enemy took the soldier’s firearms. Elements of the 14th Infantry
Battalion immediately came to the rescue, killing about five rebels.
The troopers recovered from the battle scene one hand grenade
and several rounds of DND arsenal ammunition and some
amulets.

On September 23, at noon, another encounter between


the government forces and rebels occurred at Mt. Awak, Jolo, the
lone casualty among the government troops was Draftee Roberto
Gabriel of ILAB, 1st Infantry Division, who was seriously wounded
during the encounter and later died at the hospital at Camp
Asturias, Jolo. In a separate encounter on the same day at 5:45
P.M., elements of the 14th Infantry Battalion were ambushed by
fully armed rebels in the vicinity of Kugas, Tagbak, Jolo, claiming
the lives of two soldiers.

On September 25, at 8:30 A.M., a patrol team of the 8th


Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Isagani Pinili, encountered an
undetermined number of rebels in the vicinity of Bud Datu, Jolo. A
firefight ensued with one enlisted man being hit by the enemy. The
rebels withdrew taking along with them their wounded and dead
comrades.

At 9:25 A.M., on September 30, elements of “B” Company,


14th Infantry Battalion encountered rebels in the vicinity of Bud
Awak, Jolo, only about a hundred years away from the defense
perimeter. The enemy hastily withdrew after killing one soldier and
wounding another.

At 7:30 A.M., on October 6, a route patrol of the ¼ Infantry


Battalion Brigade composed of eight men surprised about ten
rebels in ambush position between kilometer post 3 and 4 along
the Jolo-Timbangan Road. A firefight ensued and lasted for about

190
ten minutes, after which the enemy decided to retreat suffering
three WIA. The government patrol did not sustain any casualty.

Two days later, shortly after 6:00 A.M., the ICF/Allied


Forces Headquarters in Taglibi, Patikul, Sulu, was attacked by
about three hundreds rebels led by Datu Kirmo, Datu Pangilinan
and former Vice Mayor Usman Sali. In this fierce battle, the Allied
Forces suffered four KIA and two WIA. The government troopers,
however, ably defended their positions and successfully repelled
the attack. The rebels withdrew with an undetermined number of
dead and wounded. The dissidents also attacked government side
while the enemy suffered nine KIA and 13 WIA.

A lull in rebel harassment occurred in the early part of


November. However, the rebels resumed their harassing activities
on government forces and installations on the 12th at 10:00 in the
morning. A group of heavily-armed rebels was encountered by a
squad of “A” Company, 30th Infantry Battalon at the vicinity of
Kugas detachment, Jolo. The exchange of fire lasted for ten
minutes, with the enemy suffering one KIA with no casualty on the
government side. Later, ten armed rebels were sighted in the
vicinity of Bud Awak. This area was subsequently subjected to
artillery fire resulting in the death of six rebels.

On November 14, at 9:30 A.M., elements of “A” Company,


30th Infantry Battalion, under Lt. Alas while on patrol, encountered
five rebels killing four (4) and wounding one. The government
soldiers recovered from the scene several bladed weapons and
booby traps.

At 9:30 A.M., November 25, two squads of “B” Company,


30th Infantry Battalion, on combat patrol encountered a group of
rebels in the vicinity of Liang, Patikul at GC 825700. During the
fierce exchange of fire, three rebels were killed in action while the
patrol did not suffer any casualty.

At 10:00 A.M., November 25, elements of “A” Company,


30th Infantry Battalion, under Lt. Adan and Lt. Berido, were
engaged in close combat with a group of twenty heavily-armed

191
rebels whom they encountered in the vicinity of GC 835684, Jolo.
The rebels offered strong resistance and the battle continued for
about one and half hours. The rebels sustained four KIA in the
firefight while one CHDF was killed and one EP was wounded on
the government side.

At 2:30 A.M. on November 29, another squad of the 30th


Infantry Battalion under Lt. Ibot encountered four rebels in the
vicinity of GC 807608, Jolo. After a brief firefight, the rebels
withdrew with their wounded. On the same day at 9:45 P.M., the
30th Infantry Battalion requested the 105MM Howitzer Section to
bombard reported enemy concentrations in the Patikul area which
resulted in one KIA on the enemy side.

In December, the situation in Jolo was relatively peaceful.


Only one incident, a rebel ambush of “B” Company, 30th Infantry
Battalion at 7:30 A.M. on December 3 which resulted in the death
of draftee Danny Abduron, marred the generally peaceful
situation. The existence of peace in Jolo during this period,
however, did not necessarily mean that the rebels had given up
the fight. Reviewing the activities means that the rebels had given
up the fight. Reviewing the activities of the rebels for the past
months indicated that there was a lull in preparation for renewed
activities for the coming New Year.

The rebels resumed their harassing activities in January,


1975. At 9:00 A.M. on January 27, two companies of the 30th
Infantry Battalion encountered an estimated seventy heavily-
armed rebels in a fortified position in the vicinity of Kudiamak,
Jolo. The government forces engaged the rebels in a fierce
exchange of fire which lasted for an hour. Government troops also
fired forty seven 81mm mortar rounds to dislodge the enemy from
his entrenched position. The enemy finally withdrew with an
undetermined number of casualties.

At 10:00 A.M. on January 29, a squad patrol of the 8th


Infantry Battalion encountered an estimated twenty rebels in the
vicinity of Hill 251, GC 819662, Jolo. In this encounter, the enemy

192
sustained 12 killed in action. The government troops sustained
one KIA.

At 7:45 P.M. on February 4, “C” Company, 30th Infantry


Battalion was ambushed by heavily-armed rebels in the vicinity of
the San Raymundo Detachment at GC 800686 and two draftees
were killed in action. Due to these attacks and ambuscades, the
Commanding Officer, ¼ Infantry Brigade firesfour rounds towards
the vicinity of Matanda, Jolo. On February 11, twenty eight 105
MM howitzer rounds were again fired at the enemy con-
centrations.

On February 20, at 5 P.M., elements of the 8th Infantry


Battalion manning the Bud-Pula complex encountered four rebels
while on patrol in the vicinity of GC 797657, a brief firefight ensued
but the rebels, knowing that they were outnumbered, immediately
disengaged and escaped. At 9 A.M. on February 24, two men
from the “C” Company detachment at Upper Kugas - Awak road
were fired upon by seven armed rebels in the vicinity of GC
813607, killing draftee Maximo Aguilar.

In March, sporadic encountered between rebel forces and


government troops continued to occur, with the rebels sustaining
large number of casualties. Due to continuous rebel resistance,
the ¼ Infantry Brigade launched OPLAN BUKERIN III at 4:30 A.M.
on March 23, 1975. The operating troops’ objective area was Batu
Puti which they reached by around 1:15 P.M. The troops
conducted a search of the general vicinity for reported ammunition
and a firearms cache. At 2:20 P.M., the troops encountered a
rebel force in the vicinity of GC 757641. They resisted strongly
and a bitter exchange of fire lasted up to 4:25 P.M. The enemy,
however, was outmaneuvered by the government forces and they
suffered heavy casualties while the government side incurred two
KIA and four WIA.

In April 1975, the peace and order situation in Jolo


remained critical. The rebel forces, given the slightest opportunity,
continued to harass government forces. The Army had no option

193
but to continue its counter-offensive operations. Among the most
significant encounters with the rebels were the following incidents:

At 8:45 A.M. on April 3, 1975, elements of “B” Company,


30th Infantry Battalion, on their way to their Command Post, were
ambushed by rebels. This ambush resulted in the death of one
soldier and the wounding of another and the loss of two M16 rifles.
At 10:00 A.M. on April 19, an observation team led by Capt. Gatan
of the 18th Infantry Battalion established an artillery observation
post in the vicinity of GC 130530 and directed artillery fire on
reported enemy concentrations. These bombardments resulted in
ten KIA and 40 WIA on the rebel side.

At 1:05 A.M., April 22, “B” Company and the Command


Post of 30th Infantry Battalion at Kugas were harassed by rebels. A
firefight ensued for about ten minutes. The troops ably defended
their positions and repulsed the enemy attacks. After two hours of
fighting, the enemy withdrew.

At 8:40 A.M. on April 23, an enemy force ambushed an


APC about six kilometers from Jolo. The ambush resulted in nine
government troopers killed and two wounded. The troops also lost
one cal. 50 machine gun and sixty three short M16 magazines.

At 11:30 on April 30, Task Force Bagay, a composite


battalion composed of the 2nd MBLT, the 8th Infantry Battalion and
the 30th Infantry Battalion, encountered strong enemy resistance in
Timbangan, Indanan, Sulu near kilometer posts 9 and 10. The
enemy casualties in this encounter were undetermined, and the
government losses were heavy: three KIA, 27 WIA, with one 106
MM recoilless rifle prime mover and a ¼ ton jeep burned. A scout
car was also disabled by enemy fire.
By May 1975, the rebels had grown bolder. They were no
longer satisfied with harassments and ambuscades. They also
started conducting large-scale attacks on military forces and
installations. At 5:15 A.M. on May 7, the Command Post of the
477th PC Company at Indanan, together with 36th Infantry Battalion
elements, was hit by six rounds of enemy mortar fires and was
attacked by rebels using B-40 rockets, M79 grenade launchers

194
and automatic weapons. The government troops fought valiantly
and repulsed the enemy assault. This encounter, however,
inflicted on government forces three WIA, while two civilians were
also wounded.

As a consequence of this incident and other rebel


harassments, a composite battalion of the 9th Infantry Battalion,
36th Infanty Battalion and 2nd MBLT was immediately ordered to
conduct clearing operations southwest of Jolo Island. At about the
same time artillery batteries bombarded the vicinity of Kagay,
Tuburan Malimbayan, Daang Dakula, Kantitap and the entirely of
Indanan, Danag and Patikul. The artillery barrage resulted in the
enemy sustaining seventeen KIA, twelve WIA and four houses
razed to the ground.

At 11:00 A.M. on May 9, the 36th Infantry Battalion jumped


off from Indanan to clear Panabuan and to link up with elements of
the 19th Infantry Battalion at Pasil. Elements of the 36th Infantry
Battalion reached Panabuan at 1:30 P.M. without enemy contact.
On May 10, the 2nd MBLT jumped off from Maimbung and at 6:00
P.M. it encountered fifty heavily armed rebels in the vicinity of GC
775579 in a well-fortified position. A fierce and prolonged firefight
developed. At about 1:45 P.M., the enemy force was reinforced by
about two hundred to three hundred rebels in fatigue uniforms and
heavily supported by light machine guns and M79 grenade
launchers. The government troops had to call for help because
they were outnumbered and gradually being encircled by the
enemy force. At 3:30 P.M., the 8th Marine Company reinforced the
2nd MBLT and engaged in close combat. At 4:00 P.M., the enemy
force finally disengaged and withdrew after suffering eighty KIA
with several others wounded. On the government side, the
casualties numbered twenty-four KIA and five MIA.

At 5:30 on May 19, the harbor area of the 9th Infantry


Battalion in the vicinity of Mt. Tucay, Jolo, was attacked by three
hundred heavily-armed rebels. A firefight ensued and lasted for
four hours. In spite of the rebels’ superiority in numbers, elements
of the 9th Infantry Battalion courageously fought and inflicted
heavy casualties on the enemy by means of crew-served

195
weapons. The enemy sustained thirty KIA while government
troops suffered eleven KIA and seventeen WIA.

Meanwhile, the 30th Infantry Battalion was harassed daily


by the enemy. On May 31, two separate encounters between the
30th Infantry Battalion and the rebel forces occurred. The first
incident happened at 9:30 A.M. when elements of “A” Company,
with an APC, were sent to reinforce the beleaguered elements of
8th Infantry Battalion in the vicinity of Tambang Hill, who were
engaged with the enemy in close combat for about an hour. In this
encounter, elements of the 30th Infantry Battalion successfully
reinforced the members of the 8th Infantry Battalion and compelled
the enemy to withdraw after losing three killed. In another
encounter, “C” Company, 13th Infantry Battalion, engaged the
enemy in the Kudiamak area, Jolo. The firefight lasted for an hour
and resulted in five rebels killed while the government suffered six
wounded in action.

In June 1975, the rebels persisted in their resistance to the


government. A few, however, had a change of heart and had
voluntarily returned to the folds of the law, among them Abdurami
Abdurap, Bandung Abdurap and a certain Majimali.

Due to the persistent rebel opposition, elements of the 9th


Infantry Battalion with SPMT were directed to conduct clearing
operations towards Daang Dakula. At 8:30 A.M., on June 14, the
same elements encountered three hundred rebels in Bogal,
Parang, Sulu, along the road approaches. The rebels were in a
well-entrenched position with intention to ambush and surround
the combined government forces. For more than six hours, both
sides were change in close combat, with the enemy using
sophisticated weapons such as M79 grenade launchers, mortars
and grenades. At 8:30 P.M., the enemy decided to withdraw. In
this hard-fought battle, the government suffered eight killed in
action and three wounded in action, while the enemy sustained
twenty-five killed in undetermined number of wounded.

As the month neared its end, the rebels continuously


harassed government troops. An end to the armed conflict still re-

196
mained out of reach.

Zamboanga del Sur Operations

In early 1974, Zamboanga Del Sur was a rebel-infested


area wherein the anti-government forces continuously conducted
depredatory operations against the civilians and the military. The
most brutal of these was a series of ambuscades against
passenger buses where some soldiers, innocent civilians both
young and adult were fatally hit. In some incidents, the rebels
attacked harmless barrio folks. Women were abused, houses
razed to the grounds and personal properties were taken. These
atrocities, committed by the rebels, compelled grief-stricken
civilians to leave their homes, abandon their farms, livestocks and
other means of livelihood thus giving the rebels full control over
the local economy. In addition, the rebels also received financial
support from the local wealthy personalities and some government
officials who covertly sympathized with them.

With these activities which were purely banditry in nature,


the rebels had also staged some small-scale military operations
against the undermanned PC- Police detachments. The Battle of
Labangan and the bold attack at Camp Abelon risked the lives of
hundreds of civilians and military personnel and destroyed private
and public properties.

The rebels were definitely well-organized and adequately


supported with some sophisticated foreign-made firearms and
materials. Likewise, the degree of resistance exhibited by them
indicated their high state of training and determination which can
only be possessed by hardcore members and seasoned fighters.

Within the province, the highest secessionist organization


was the Zamboanga del Sur Revolutionary Committee with Sali
Wali holding the topmost position. It divided the province into three
zones, covering the whole area from Zamboanga City up to the
periphery of Lanao del Norte. Zone 1 covered the area from
Zamboanga City to Ipil; Zone 2 covered the area from Ipil to the
Sibuguey River in Siay; and Zone 3 covered the area from Siay to

197
Karomatan, Lanao del Norte.

To contain rebel activities in Zamboanga del Sur, the 4th


Infantry Division directed the 16th Infantry Battalion to implement
OPLAN KINGFISHER. This operation called for clearing the entire
Baganian Region and the western towns of Zambonga del Sur of
rebel elements. A series of armed confrontations between rebels
and elements of the 16th Infantry Battalion took place. Because of
the valuable training and experience gained from the NPA
campaign in Luzon, the 16th Infantry Battalion was able to
outmaneuver the rebels in guerilla warfare. Due to this effective
punitive campaign against lawless elements who defied the
government, alarming atrocities were temporarily curtailed and the
rebels were forced to retreat to their well-entrenched sanctuaries
in the coast of Dinas and Pisaan Island.

The area was highly fortified and defended with high-


powered crew-served weapons mounted to cover all possible
avenues of approach. The area also had an underground shelter
where the rebels could seek refuge during naval and air sorties; it
was also used as an arms and ammunition cache. The training of
rebels was conducted here under the supervision of trained
Malaysian cadres and some renegades who abandoned their
services in the AFP.

The fast-moving progress of the pacification drive in the


area attracted the civilians, who had been scared away from their
homes, to settle back home and attend to their farms in search of
normal lives. A ceasefire in Mindanao as a result of a détente with
Zamboanga del Sur was achieved, and the rebels became
preoccupied with non-combat activities and remained harmless for
a while.
The lull in the area was very short that by mid-June, 1974,
the rebels escalated their terroristic acts again all over
Zamboanga del Sur. They were engaged not only in military
operations such as ambuscades, raids and harassments of
installations, but also in sea piracy, kidnapping for ransom,
robberies, cattle rustling and the liquidation of hostile civilians.

198
With the escalation of rebel activities in Zamboanga del
Sur, intelligence reports indicated that undetermined number of
enemy arms, ammunitions and explosives were being hidden in
the periphery of Pagadian City. This brought about the conduct of
joint zonal search operations at the Santiago-Bonifacio districts,
Pagadian City, on July 21, 1974. The operations were dubbed as
OPLAN SEA BREEZE by Headquarters 4th Infantry Division. The
participating units were the 16th Infantry Battalion, elements of the
4th Infantry Division, PC Zamboanga Sur, Military Intelligence
Group (MIG) and the Pagadian City Police force. Lt. Col. Rome
Rexcian was designated task force commander.

The zonal search operations in the Santiago-Bonifacio


districts, Pagadian City, yielded assorted firearms of various
calibers, assorted firearms of various calibers, assorted rounds of
ammunitions, explosives and untaxed blue seal cigarettes. The
search operations in the San Pedro-Sta Lucia districts likewise
resulted in a big haul of assorted high powered as well as small-
caliber firearms, explosives, ammunitions of different calibers and
other illegal items. The operations were considered significant and
successful since they dealt a crippling blow to the rebel plans to
stage armed attacks against government agencies in Pagadian
City and surrounding towns which consequently set back their
timetable.

In August, the action shifted to Sacol Island, Zambonga del


Sur where a joint zonal search code-named OPLAN WALIS was
launched by the 9th Infantry Battalion, 36th Infantry Battalion and
2nd Marine Battalion Landing Team. On August 14, at 8:00 P.M.
OPLAN WALIS commenced and by midnight, operating units had
established a beachhead in Sacol Island, with the 2nd MBLT
occupying the Landang Laum area, GS 1670, while the 9th Infantry
Battalion and elements of the 36th Infantry Battalion occupied the
beach area in GS 1869. At 11:00 A.M., on August 15, elements of
the 9th Infantry Battalion encountered the rebels and captured
three boxes of explosives in the vicinity of Intusan, Sacol Island.

On August 16, the 9th Infantry Battalion cleared and


occupied Sacol Hill, GC 192711, and subduing enemy resistance.

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The 2nd MBLT continued its mopping up operations towards
Landang Laum, GC 164703 and Busay, GC 176722 without any
enemy resistance. In the vicinity of GC 180082 elements of the 9th
Infantry Battalion under Sgt. Fonda encountered and
subsequently captured three rebels. After a brief firefight, the
troops recovered from the scene of the encounter one shotgun,
fourteen magazines with several rounds, thirty sacks of corn and
assorted spices. A watch tower about thirty five feet high was also
discovered.

On the whole, the operations yielded seven enemy


prisoners of war, 1,000 rounds, Cal .30 link; four fuses for hand
grenades, three hand grenades, five home-made shotguns, two
OBM (out board motor) 40 HP Mercury engines, one General Set
Hone CG 1500 and one 151612 radio transceiver.

In September, rebel forces continued their harassment of


military installations, personnel and civilians compelling the
government forces to counter attack and maintain peace and
order. On September 7, at 7:00 P.M., the command post of “B”
Company, 16th Infantry Battalion at San Miguel town was
subjected to two hour of intermittent harassing fires. The troopers
held their position and repulsed the enemy attack with no
casualties.

That same night, heavily-armed rebels attacked Bo.


Calilangan, Dinas, to discourage civilians from helping the
government. The rebels machine-gunned the place, killing ten
civilians and burning eight houses. When the combat patrol of “A”
Company, 16th Infantry Battalion, under Capt. Quidangen and 2nd
Lt. Gaabucayan reached the barrio, the enemy had already
withdrawn. Medical help and other relief items were quickly
extended to the barrio folks, particularly the bereaved survivors of
the dead.

In October 1974, government forces achieved a major


breakthrough in their campaign. Sali Wali, the rebel leader,
surrendered to the military in October 10, which was a major
setback to the rebel organization. The rebels had to temporarily

200
suspend their combat operations in order to reorganize
themselves. In a provincial-level conference of the rebels held in
the Linguisan area, commander Englishman was elevated to the
top position of provincial chairman to take over Sali Wali’s
position, while Commander Nonan Calalagan was designated
Vice-Chairman. The rebel forces were reduced to an estimated
300 men because of the surrender and subsequent reshuffling of
command. Except for few sporadic skirmishes, an uneasy peace
reigned in Zamboanga del Sur following Sali Wali’s surrender.

In January 1975, the rebels renewed the harassment of


military personnel and installations. At 1:30 P.M. on New Year’s
Day, an “A” Company, 16th Infantry Battalion detachment at
Dimataling was subjected to a three-minute harassing fire by
rebels in a pump boat passing the detachment enroute to Pisaan
Island. No casualty was inflicted on the army troops. On the next
day, at 7:15 A.M., a platoon from “B” Company encountered an
estimated fifty armed rebels in the vicinity of Bo. Bulawan, San
Miguel. The firefight lasted for five hours resulting in the death of
one enlisted man and wounding three others. Five rebels were
killed and ten were wounded in the battle. Meanwhile, the
reinforcements coming from “A” Company re-encountered the
withdrawing rebels. In the ensuing firefight, two wounded rebels
were captured.

At 3:00 A.M. on January 18, another zonal search


operation was conducted in Santiago district, Pagadian City, in
coordination with the Zamboanga del Sur PC, City Police and
Philippine Navy units stationed in the city. The operation yielded
assorted firearms, ammunition and explosives which were turned
over to the PC for appropriate legal action.

Also in January, search and destroy operations were


shifted to San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur. The operations were
conducted by the Composite Ranger platoon with a Philippine
Navy boat as a blocking force at Damaguillas Bay. Operations
commenced on February 19 resulting in the destruction of several
enemy hideouts, the capture of a rebel named Rogelio Cortes, the
seizure of an enemy pumpboat and the recovery of twenty gauge

201
12 shotguns with live ammunitions. The operation was suspended
on February 23 due to the forthcoming referendum, and the troops
were deployed in critical areas to avert any group which might
attempt to disrupt it. On February 25, four PAF planes conducted
bombing sorties at Pisaan Island and the Tarakan area and sunk
one pumpboat loaded with firearms, ammunition and medicines
coming from Karomatan, Lanao del Norte. Again, the ranger
platoon under 2nd Lt. Cabreros was employed to intercept a
possible rebel withdrawal from Pisaan Island.

At noon on February 28, government forces encountered a


large group of armed rebels at Hill 10, Bo. Dinas. A fierce and
prolonged firefight ensued resulting in the death of one draftee
and three enlisted personnel wounded. On the enemy side, forty
seven rebels were killed and many others were wounded. After
the firefight, the troops recovered assorted equipment and
ammunitions.

After the encounter at Bo. Mandag, Dinas, intelligence


reports at Ticala and Pisaan Island stated that the rebels from
Karomatan, Lanao del Norte, Jolo, Labangan, Lapuyan,
Margosatubig, Kumalarang and Alicia sent reinforcements to the
Dinas area, concentrating in Pisaan Island. Air strikes were
launched by four jet fighters from Edwin Andrews Air Base,
Zamboanga City, concentrating their attacks at Pisaan and Ticala
Islands, including the Tarakan area of San Pablo, Zamboanga del
Sur. Because of the air strikes, the rebels were forced to move
inland and sought refuge at Bo. Mandag, Sambulawan.

On March 16, a composite company, 16th Infantry


Battalion, was organized and placed under the command of Capt.
Edsel Quidagen. Assigned to intercept rebels withdrawals from
Pisaan Island, the composite company jumped off from its base at
Dinas on March 7 at 2:00 A.M., for search and destroy operations
at Sambulawan, Mandag area. At 10:30 A.M., on September 9,
the composite company encountered heavily-armed rebels in the
vicinity of Mt. Sungayan. Enemy light machine guns were
positioned in an L-shaped emplacement supported by snipers and
an estimated one hundred thirty to one hundred fifty rebels. The

202
firefight lasted for almost three hours. Air support was made
available and the government troops cleared areas of encounter
to give way to mortar fire and later air strikes. The enemy
sustained twenty five KIA and one WIA. The encounter at barrio
Mandag and Mt. Sungayan, all in the Dinas area, marked the
gradual decrease of rebel hostilities in the coastal barrios of
Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur.

At 7:00 A.M., on May 2, 1975, a detachment composed of


local police and the 2nd CHDF at Bo. Rebucon, Dumalinao, was
attacked by a group of forty to fifty rebels coming from the
southwest. Initially, the rebels occupied the high ground near the
vicinity of Rebucon Primary School while the defenders, who were
outnumbered and outgunned, tried to repel and attack. The rebels
realized their advantage in numbers and strength and started to
advance, forcing the barrio defenders to retreat. The neighboring
military units heard the sound of battle. Immediately, the battalion
commander of the 16th Infantry Battalion dispatched a platoon
under Lt. Virgilio Briones to Rebucon, to move by foot coming
from the northeast to reinforce the besieged government
detachment. He sent another platoon under Lt. Cipriano Bayan to
counter attack the rebels from their flanks by taking the sea.
Further, he recalled the Ranger Platoon from Dinas, Zamboanga
del Sur, and directed them to block possible routes of enemy
withdrawal. All of the platoons dispatched had one 60MM mortar
attached to provide maximum fire support. Not satisfied with the
employment of his troops, the battalion commander, with his
designated assistant, went to the area to personally supervise the
operation.

The platoon under Lt. Bayan was the first to reach the area
at around 9:00 A.M., with two teams of police forces under Major
Dalid and two teams of PC troopers under a non-commissioned
officer. They found the area evacuated and a part of it already
burning. The rebels at that time were setting big houses on fire
when they were interrupted by the arrival of Lt. Bayan’s platoon
from the south near the river. A firefight ensued until the rebels
returned to their former positions in the vicinity of the school
building. At about 10:15 A.M., Lt. Virgilio Briones party arrived in

203
the area and after gathering information from the civilians and
from the radio, he proceeded towards the school building. From
the distance of about four hundred fifty meters, he ordered for
mortar fire.

At this juncture, the battalion commander, who was


monitoring the situation, was already moving with the Rangers by
boat. They landed at Bo. Bibilik and proceeded right away to Hill
314, GS 4853. From there, the movement of rebels could be
observed and the route of withdrawal could easily be blocked.
While on the way up, the battalion commander sensed that the
rebels were determined to hold their position due to the firing
between troops and rebels, so he decided to go back and land at
Bo. Mama and attacked the rebels from the rear. Upon landing,
the group immediately climbed the hill and from the top observed
the situation. The group of Lt. Bayan was already moving towards
the flank of the enemy while the police and PC group secured the
group of houses in the barrio proper. The battalion commander
then ordered Lt. Cabreros to proceed and establish contact with
the enemy while he proceeded to the barrio. As the troops going
downhill, the enemy withdrew to the rear going towards 434. The
troops chased the rebels to no avail. As a result battalion
commander reorganized the whole group at about 1:00 P.M., and
went back to the battalion command post. In this encounter, the
government did not suffer any casualty while the enemy suffered
one WIA. The government troops also recovered cash amounting
P52.20, two fatigue uniforms and one home-made shotgun, but
lost one M16 rifle with thirty rounds of ammunition.

On June 19, government troops received reports that a


heavily armed rebels under Commanders Jerry Calalagan and
Calderon were in Bo. Lomonan, San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur.
At 6:00 A.M., the next day, “B” Company dispatched a patrol to
check the presence of armed rebels. Led by Sgt. Rodriguez, the
patrol was given two objectives: Bos. Limonan and Mati. On the
way the patrol was met by heavy volume of fire from the rebels
who were positioned at the bank of the river. A firefight ensued
and the enemy withdrew down the road.

204
At this juncture, marketing truck of “A” Company passing
the route of the enemy and a hasty ambush was conducted by the
rebels. The soldiers suffered casualties of one KIA and four WIA.
The front tire of the vehicle was hit. The remaining passengers
including the wounded quickly moved away from the killing zone.
The driver ditched the truck to the left side of the road where
everybody was able to jump off the truck and positioned
themselves in the canal alongside. From there they contained the
enemy, but soon they were also fired at by the enemy forces at
back of a big house. Cpl Opena, sensing that their position was
compromised, decided to move the group forward to look for
better cover. About one hundred yards from their original position,
they took cover on the right side of the road and made their final
stand.

Twenty minutes later, reinforcing elements composed of


the Command Group (Battalion Commander, Panther platoon and
elements of the Headquarters Service Group) arrived at the
scene. The enemy upon sighting the arriving troops disengaged
and withdrew towards Bo. Mati. The operation resulted in one KIA,
four MIA on the government side and four KIA and an
undetermined number of wounded on the enemy side.

205
Chapter 7

MOTIVATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT

Background

Outlawry has been a perennial problem in the Philippines.


Though the Spaniards ruled the Philippines for over three
centuries, they were not able to impose a continuing peace and
order. The Americans accomplished little of this regard in certain
areas but outbursts of peasant revolts and Muslim juramentados
continued. With the re-establishment of the Philippine Republic,
peace was achieved but it was fragile and temporary. Anti-
government elements struck and defied government authority
from time to time.

The year 1949 was marked by the resurgence of outlaw


activities as a result of the proliferation of firearms brought about
by World War II. This year witnessed the height of Huk
depredations as the dissidents sacked, looted and pillaged towns
and barrios. They struck terror in the hearts of the helpless
inhabitants of Central Luzon and some portions of Southern
Luzon. They forced the people to feed, clothe and shelter them.
Information about government troops was elicited forcibly and the
helpless populace was required to render personal service to the
Huks and bandits.

In order to address the Huk problem, the right man who


can provide the right direction and solution to the existing debacle
must be placed in the Department of National Defense. President
Elpidio Quirino found the man in the then Congressman Ramon
Magsaysay. After his assumption as Secretary of National
Defense, Magsaysay swiftly instituted series of reforms in the
AFP. He ordered the reorganization of the General Staff and a
revitalization of the major commands, and directed an all-out
military effort against the Huks.

Realizing that the outcome of the struggle between the


dissidents and the government forces hinged on the sympathy

206
and support of the masses, he created the Civil Affairs Office
(CAO) which undertook the psychological warfare phase of the
campaign. Then Major Jose M. Carol was designated Chief of the
CAO. The CAO’s target objectives in order of importance were set
as: troops first, civilians next and the enemy last. Magsaysay
believed that in order to fight and suppress the Huks effectively,
the esprit-de-corps and morale of the AFP must be improved, and
sustained at a high level. In order to develop and sustain hostility
toward the dissidents and minimize the support that can be
obtained by the Huks, the civilian populace must likewise be
informed of the effects of the communist menace. Incentives in the
form of rewards must also be given to civilians who can provide
information leading to the neutralization of Huk leaders. Finally,
the enemy had to be convinced that he was fighting a lost cause.1

This type of warfare was in essence a silent war, a battle


for the hearts and minds of men. It was a form of psychological,
psycho-political combat. It was a new dimension in the conduct of
war. For these reasons, Secretary Magsaysay in February, 1951,
decided to use the so-called “Unorthodox Methods” of Civic
Action. This civic action effort by the Civil Affairs Office under the
aegis of the Defense Secretary led to the defeat of the Huk
movement in the 1950’s.

Because of this, the “Magsaysay Approach” to the


communist- led insurgency gained worldwide attention. Observers
from the United States, Europe and Asia came to study it resulting
in its institutionalization into what has been called the military civic
action. This is term of fairly recent coinage, coming into use in the
late 1950s to categorize all non-violent and non-combat
operations of the military in counter-insurgency and stability
warfare campaigns. Despite its success under Magsaysay, the
Armed Forces Civic Action effort lost steam and gradually lost
momentum following President Magsaysay’s death in 1957.

The AFP in 1966 implemented the Troop Information and


Education (TI & E) Program which was a strategy designed to
inform, educate and motivate all military and civilian personnel
towards instilling a strong sense a discipline, loyalty, pride, and

207
professionalism in the AFP.2 In so doing, it was hoped that the
AFP would become a more efficient and effective agent of the
nation-building. This program was implemented at the time when
communist-inspired unrest had resurgence in various parts of the
archipelago.

When President Ferdinand E. Marcos assumed his second


term as president on December 30, 1969, the social volcano he
spoke of the start of his first term was beginning to spew ash.
Cries of revolution resounded all over the country.3 Caught in the
midst of intensified dissidence and cognizant of the need for an
AFP counter-thrust measure, he emphatically expressed his
desire to make the Armed Forces a more effective instrument of
national defense and nation-building. Thus, on January 18, 1970,
the President, in his letter to the Secretary of National Defense,
emphasized that “The AFP must intensify its efforts to attain a
convincing posture as the protector of the people through
integrated program of good community relations, assistance in
civic action and other nation building programs of the government
and the proper behavior of the individual soldier.” Subsequently,
this gave birth to the AFP’S Home Defense Program.

AFP Home Defense Program

In line with the President’s policy of combating subversion


through relentless military operations and civic action, the AFP
Home Defense Program adopted the following broad objectives:4

1. To develop a citizenry responsive to their military and


civic obligations to the Republic of the Philippines.
2. To help attain a state of military preparedness to
cope with both internal and external threats.
3. To promote the AFP’s image as the people’s
protector and partner.
4. To help strengthen the social, political and economic
structure of the Philippines in order to enhance its
national security posture.

208
To implement these broad objectives, the AFP Home
Defense Program adopted specific objectives which fell under the
following:
1. Reserve affairs activities.
2. Civil Assistance activities.
3. Community relations activities.
4. Agro-military activities.

The community relations activities of the AFP Home


Defense Program were classified into four types: 1) civic action;
2) command information; 3) public relations/information; 4)
psychological operations.

The critical battles in Luzon and parts of Visayas and


Mindanao were indications that there was a growing communist
conspiracy bent on taking over state and political power and
supplanting democratic processes with a foreign ideology. An
equally dangerous but subtle threat came from the right, from
another group of ambitious men who utilized economic, political
and armed power in order to keep themselves well-entrenched
and continue exploiting the Filipino people.

It was during this critical period when the Office of Civil


Relations (OCR) organized a psychological operation. The
circumstances favored the project as there was no organized
campaign in the field to counter the propaganda of the enemy who
were more ideologically motivated than most combat soldiers.

The prospect of this project was to commit the entire troop


strength into massive civil relations activities after providing them
with basic working knowledge in such operations. Seemingly
simple, the prospect turned out to be a complex and even more
complicated than other more conventional activities.

In April 1974, the first psychological operations (PsyOps)


seminar module was held. A mobile training team, consisting of
civilian lecturers and an army officer, who also served as a
lecturer and acted as team leader, was sent out on a two-week
mission to test the plan. They went to Camp Upi, Gamu, Isabela,

209
Rev. Father Batnito praises the CAO effort to the public for bringing
mutual civilian-army operations for peace and order in Bicol, 1952.
(National Library)

CAO staffers distribute pamphlets to eager civilians in Central


Luzon on the early restoration of peace and order in the area,
1951. (National Library)

210
the home of the First Infantry Brigade IID, PA. There the team
taught psychological operations concept, an overview of mass
media and the tools of propaganda, human relations, Filipino
cultural values and several other related topics including review
subjects and activities of the government.

The first time the PsyOps seminar was conducted, it


produced doubts and apprehensions on the part of the officers
and men of the unit. As veterans of the pacification campaign in
the province, they claimed that they knew more than the members
of the mobile training team did. They hoped for something greater
than a mere seminar, something bigger than discussing issues
and analyzing concepts.

As the team mused over its problem, Colonel Teodulfo


Bautista, the team leader, pointed out the main reason why the
soldiers were fighting. He explained: “The local communists are
trained well in ideology. They know what they are up to and they
fight hard despite the great odds.”

Apart from learning the basic skills employed in


propaganda aimed at a select target audience, and learning the
consequences of misbehavior on the part of that audience, the
seminar opened up a storm of questions, each one of them
leading to various issues relating the government, politics,
ideology, economy, society, culture, attitudes and behavior. The
soldiers were reminded of the new battlefront which was in the
hearts and minds of the Filipino people. It was important that the
soldiers should first be convinced towards these efforts.
Psychological operations were also aimed at influencing the
attitudes, behavior and emotions of the troops themselves,
resulting in the widening of horizons in the level of thinking of
every individual soldier.

As the series of seminars continued, the task became even


more complex. The team was exposed to problems that directly or
indirectly affected soldiers’ attitudes. The long exposure to combat
life, pay and allowances, reading materials, limited support,
supplies, recreation, sudden exposure to strange land and culture

211
were among the factors discovered by the team which made the
task more difficult than simply discussing matters. The team
realized that it needed more than an intellectual or emotional
awareness to commit a soldier to fight wholeheartedly.

Though noble in its intentions, it nevertheless created


some negative impression in certain sectors. In order to remove
the aggressive stance and stigma attached to psychological
operations, the Army conducted what was known as the PA
Enlightenment Program. The program’s broad objective was to
assist in the efforts of the government and the AFP in developing
and maintaining support for the attainment of national goals.

On July 1, 1974, Major General Rafael Zagala, then


Commanding General, Philippine Army, prescribed it as a matter
of policy, “that in allocating time, efforts and resources to the
various tasks of the Army, the implementation of this program
shall have priority over all other activities except those directly
related to the primary missions of the individual units.”

Motivation and Enlightenment Program and TANGLAW

Notwithstanding some of the negative comments arising


from the experience of the first mobile teams, Major General
Fortunato U. Abat, who succeeded Gen. Zagala as Commanding
General of the Philippine Army in 1976, encouraged the teams to
go on with the program. This was made clear in the book, “Guid-
ing Principles of the New Society”:

“The soldier with his gun and his bullets, plus his
skill and his courage, can destroy the enemy. We would
not expect more than this if the enemy were alien invaders
or agents of foreign powers.”

“But when the enemy is ignorance, poverty, doubt


and alien ideology, guns and bullets, meet their limits.
These limits are all too painfully apparent when it is some
of our own people who fall subject to an alien and hostile
faith.”

212
“The battlefield then transcends land and sea and
sky. The battlefield becomes the hearts and minds of men.
Only a stronger faith can defeat another faith, doubt and
ignorance cannot prevail. Only knowledge of and faith in
our cause can win the day.”

The year saw a major push towards this effort. A directive


was issued by General Abat to exploit available resources and
expertise to expand the program. It embraced at this time the
needed training through lectures and facilitators for the program.
The program was then dubbed “Motivation and Enlightenment”
with the objective of motivating an awareness in the soldier of his
role not only as protector and guardian of Philippine national
security but also as purveyor of development and change.

At this time, the normalization process had begun in


Mindanao and Luzon with the government’s ongoing develop-
mental projects. Political stability at that time, together with the
clearance and support of the Ministry of National Defense
provided a better atmosphere among the military ranks for the
program.

To add impetus to the ongoing thrusts towards motivation,


the Office of the Civilian Relations, Ministry of National Defense,
was created under Presidential Decree No. 876, with Deputy
Minister Carmelo Z. Barbero as head. Accordingly, a new course
was evolved, called TANGLAW. The course was launched in the
same year to serve as reinforcement to the already institu-
tionalized TI & E program of the AFP. It was made a compulsory
module of all training courses.

As envisioned, TANGLAW was a revolutionary program


designed for all AFP personnel to enable them to understand and
appreciate the ideological framework of the “Revolution from the
Center”, then being waged by the national leadership. The
program was aimed to reorient the AFP’s attitudes and values in
support of the New Society’s goals, inculcating in its personnel a
greater sense of commitment and creating a new AFP tradition
based on the national slogan of “Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa.” It

213
stressed the role of the soldier as a protector of the people and a
paragon of good citizenship. As a Pilipino acronym. TANGLAW
stood for “Tanod at Gabay ng Lahi at Watawat” (Guardian and
Pillar of Our Race and Flag). The root word itself was a Pilipino
word meaning “Light” or “Beacon.”

As a corollary, the issuance of Executive Order No. 897 on


March 1, 1983, necessitated the revision of the AFP TANGLAW
Program. Executive Order 879 directed the propagation of the
Filipino ideology based on the seven pillars, namely: Nationalism,
Unity and Identity, Social Justice, Freedom of Belief, Self
Reliance, Internationalism and Participatory Democracy towards
the three ideological goals of Political Liberation, Economic
Emancipation and Social Concord. This thrust made the TANG-
LAW program a special program in the propagation of the Filipino
ideology in the AFP.

Significantly, the revised TANGLAW program of 1983 was


boldly launched in all the Regional Unified Commands (RUCs) by
the Civil Relations Service, AFP, in coordination with the Pre-
sident’s Center for Special Studies (PCSS) and the Executive
Group, National Committee on the propagation of Filipino Ideology
headed by then First Lady and Minister of Human Settlements,
Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos. The major services of the AFP likewise
carried out the revised (Makabagong) TANGLAW in their res-
pective commands. TANGLAW thus became a matter of policy not
only for the major services but especially for all Army subordinate
units.

Under the New Social Order, President Marcos said that in


order to cope with change, “an internal revolution is imperative to
complement and reinforce the external one.” This entailed institu-
tionalization of reforms accompanied by the internalization of a
new set of norms, values, attitudes and beliefs that give primacy
to the building of the Filipino nation and to the ideals of the new
social order. Within its own means, the Philippine Army had en-
deavored to bring about this transformation and internalization of
the values of the New Society through continuous education and
motivation of every individual soldier. The individual soldier, more

214
than just being the protector of social reforms, was by necessity
also an initiator of reforms as well as a partner in the building of
the Filipino nation.

It was in this regard that the Philippine Army launched its


Motivation and Enlightenment Program (MEP) which called for the
involvement of both the military and civilian sectors alike. No less
than the President and the Deputy Minister for Civilian Relations,
Carmelo Barbero, were particularly concerned about this subject.
President Marcos called a command conference on April 16,
1985, underscoring the need of joint civilian-military efforts in
nation building while Barbero subsequently sent a memorandum
letter to the Chief of Staff, AFP, echoing the ideas of the
President.

Thereafter, personnel of the AFP from all major service


commanders down to the enlisted personnel of every AFP
organization were properly motivated and enlightened on why he
was in the service, his usefulness in the organization, the causes
he was fighting for, his importance and objectives that he would
try to fulfill.

The rationale behind the program was to inculcate upon


the individual soldier the objectives of his unit, the environment he
operated in, confidence in himself and country, and most of all the
conviction to do what was right in fighting the lawless elements in
the Philippine society. Furthermore, the program recognizes the
need of intensifying the feeling of national consciousness, par-
ticularly the feeling for a deeper social and political commitment to
the Philippine armed forces. The program also sought to evolve
and recommend certain sets of principles, norms and ideals
geared towards the fulfillment of its goals. The AFP, for its part, as
an agent of change, helped to reshape the attitudes, values and
ways of the Filipino people.

The objectives of the AFP Motivation and Enlightenment


Program encompassed every aspect of the soldier as a person
and as agent and catalyst of change, among others:

215
1. To develop deeper social and political commitment to
the nation;
2. To arouse in the soldier a deep sense of pride in his
national heritage and organization;
3. To inspire the soldier to embody the spirit of self-
sacrifice in the pursuit of national goals;
4. To instill in the soldier a firm loyalty to the state;
5. To intensify the soldier’s will to defend the interest of
the nation;
6. To cultivate in the soldier an enlightened political
maturity;
7. To induce the soldier to participate positively in the
affairs of the government; and
8. To motivate the soldier to help achieve a government
responsive to the needs of the people.

In terms of principles, attitudes and values, these were


broken down as follows, together with the ways in which the
program was to be achieved:

1. National Pride - involved the appreciation of the


soldier’s achievements in the social, political and
cultural fields including diplomatic fields: the taking of a
positive view of a Filipino values and the emulation of
our national leaders.
2. Self-sacrifice - included the promotion and practice of
simple living, the rendering of public service when
needed, the economy in the use of public resources,
and the development of a social conscience.
3. Will to defend the interest of the nation - covered
devotion to and concern for God, country and people;
the development of the will to defend the State and
ready response to the call of duty.
4. Loyalty to the State - involved respect for and
adherence to the constitution; respect for and pride in
national symbols and the use of and pride in things
Philippines.
5. Political morality (set of norms and rules) - included the
responsibility, efficiency, integrity and loyalty in the

216
performance of public office; personal morality and the
observance of ethical principles.
6. Positive participation in the affairs of government -
covered active involvement in government affairs; the
sharing of responsibility in the selection and in the
review of performance of the country’s leadership; and
participation in the formulation and implementation of
developments programs and projects.
7. Responsive government (local officials) - included the
sensitivity to the needs and problems of the community
and the effective and speedy implementation of
developmental programs and projects.

The participation of the Army in the modernization of the


country was not limited to controlling or changing the physical
environment to serve the needs of man. The army was aware that
this was not the whole process of development. It recognized that
the material progress could not be achieved without the ac-
companying change in values and attitudes, the restructuring or
strengthening of existing social and political institutions or the
creation of new institutions. These changes went hand in hand
with the army’s effort, for these constituted the foundation of
national, unity, stability and cooperative effort.

In the military organization, the soldier is the most valuable


asset. As such, he must be properly educated, adequately
informed and rightly motivated, so as to encourage him to perform
his job with direction and purpose. It was in this context that the
Philippine Army embarked on an intensified Motivation and
Enlightenment Program.

The TANGLAW Program was introduced and developed in


the AFP for the purpose of implementing the philosophy and
principles of the AFP motivational education program. Such a
program was designed to ensure maximum effectiveness and
uniform results throughout the military service and those within the
soldier’s area of influence. It was the result of a move initiated by
the Civil Relations Service which was given the task of evolving
more effective educational and informational programs and of

217
improving existing programs.5 It was anchored in a reorientation of
values, a recasting of habits and attitudes, a remodeling of the
character of the Filipino.

Considering this, the Philippine Army was tasked with the


responsibility of implementing the program. The Army being the
AFP’s premier branch of service with all its resources and
capabilities pursued the program primarily to assist the national
government and other agencies to effect normalization and
political maturity.

The Philippine Army envisioned the AFP TANGLAW


program as a means to further strengthen the moral fiber and will
of the soldier. As such, the program was aimed to motivate and
enlighten every Army soldier in the goals of the new social order.
In order to solicit the much needed support and cooperation of the
people towards the attainment of the national objectives:

1. To help strengthen the Army’s sense of commitment


to the nation and its constituted authority:
2. To help strengthen the Army’s awareness of its role
and responsibilities in helping build the Filipino nation;
3. To help instill in the Army set of values that reflect
the goals of the New Society;
4. To help create a new tradition based on the
ideological framework of “Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa”; and
5. To help develop a strong nation founded on a just,
egalitarian and stable society designed for the general welfare of
the entire Filipino population and perpetuating the rights and
liberty of the people as mandated by the New Constitution.

The Philippine Army, by means of the TANGLAW


Program, proselytized and propagated the values and ideals of
the New Society through ideological education and guided or
controlled indoctrination by designated units or personnel in three
phases:

Phase 1: Internalization Phase. This aimed at a massive,


total and revolutionary restructuring of the professional attitudes

218
and values of all active members of the Philippine Army. The
targets were the officers, enlisted men, cadets, draftees, trainees
and civilian employees of the command, and also the participants
of the PA Training Program.

Phase 2: Proliferation Phase. In this phase, the program


was extended to para-military personnel and other members of
the AFP community. It was aimed to imbue the hearts and minds
of these personnel with a perspective that allowed the full
development of their potentials as participants in nation building.

Phase 3: Expansion Phase. This was the continuation of


Phases I and II aimed at developing and strengthening the moral
commitment to the national ideals that transcended colonial
orientation and served as the basis for redefining the Filipino
national identity and for strengthening the people’s pride in being
Filipinos. It was aimed at infusing in the population a firmer sense
of social responsibility that would serve as the sustaining force of
the ideals of “Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa.”

It was realized that the key to lasting peace and order was
the soldier himself. With this in mind, the Motivation and
Enlightenment Program was reinvigorated, which gave birth to the
launching of the PA/ME/TANGLAW Program and which was
further given emphasis by the implementation of the Command’s
Revitalization Program. These were effected to inculcate in the
hearts and minds of every soldier the value of loyalty and
discipline in the pursuit of a military career. This program imparted
not so much the knowledge and expertise required of the
Philippine Army’s profession but more of the attitudes necessary
to improve the effectiveness of the Filipino men-in-uniform in
performing their sworn duty. It was believed that it was easy to
impart skills and knowledge, but was much more difficult to
develop attitudes, to inculcate beliefs and convictions, and to
motivate a person to act purposely, consciously and intelligently in
consonance with his or her convictions.

Furthermore, motivation enlightenment was more than


information; it includes building positive values and attitudes

219
through sound personnel administration and management. Even if
an organization had the most inspiring leaders, it was believed, it
would certainly collapse under the weight of administrative inef-
ficiency or mismanagement.

The effectiveness of any organization depends on the


quality of the personnel staffing it. With this line of thinking, the
Army assumed the added responsibility of setting the direction
towards professional growth in all fields to ensure that its per-
sonnel could live up to the high expectations that the service
demanded. The expanded scope of the Command’s activities
within the framework of the New Society made it more imperative
that the personnel be trained not just in military concepts and
strategies but also in tasks that would substantially contribute to
the national development efforts and the well-being of the Filipino
nation.

In achieving this paramount objective of the Philippine


Army Revitalization Plan, the command provided opportunities for
learning and growth to its military as well as civilian personnel.
This was seen as a means of developing their skills and expertise
in assuming positions of greater responsibilities and challenge.

In this light, the revitalization of the individual soldier was


centered on two approaches, motivation and education. The
motivation approach was aimed at persuading the soldier to be an
example of discipline and to be the propagator of the objective of
the New Society. In line with this, the Command’s Motivation and
Enlightenment and TANGLAW programs became integral to all
phases of instruction, implementing such projects as Project
Ugnayan, Project Liwanag-Genyo, Project Sinag-Akit and Project
Pagbabago. This was done to strengthen the personnel’s will to
carry on with their mission and to further instill in them a sense of
loyalty to the country and people. The education approach, on the
other hand, was aimed not only at inculcating the right values in
every soldier but also to provide him with knowledge, information,
skills and expertise that would make him appreciate his en-
vironment, and to enable him to assume higher positions of res-
ponsibility together with their attendant pressures.

220
The education and training as implemented by the PA’s
regular and reserve components was done through qualitative
training activities coupled with intensive and aggressive
motivational enlightenment programs. This objectives was also
attained by designing career development programs that provided
the soldier with opportunities for growth and advancement

The success of the programs was also dependent on the


resolution of morale and welfare problems. Such problems were
compounded by the indifference and slow pace of offices
responsible for the processing of claims, benefits, rest and
recreation (R&R), awards and decoration, promotions, pay and
allowances and related matters. The inability to provide the
individual soldier what was due him meant the dampening of his
initiative to undertake any activity.

Aware that a highly motivated soldier was a very efficient


soldier, the Army paid immediate attention to the morale and
welfare of its personnel, particularly in the areas of sports, rest
and recreation, promotions awards and other benefits. The
Philippine Army, following this assumption, was responsible for
ensuring the maximum and efficient utilization of its manpower
resources. It conducted year-round program sports activities so as
to enhance the physical well being, stamina, discipline and
sportsmanship of the soldier.

In this connection, the Army helped its different units


improve their athletic and recreational facilities. The command
also continuously improved the R & R facilities and transport
support for its personnel going on R & R. Moreover, the Command
granted promotions to qualified personnel and gave numerous
awards and decorations to deserving military and civilian
personnel in recognition of their outstanding contributions and
achievements in the service.

Side by side with the Morale and Welfare Program was the
enforcement of discipline, law and order to ensure that the PA was
manned by reliable personnel who could respond quickly and
effectively as required, in order to maintain a high level of

221
physically, mentally and spiritually stable personnel. Also under-
taken was a continuous weeding out of undesirables and misfits
simultaneous with the improvement of benefits. To effect this
policy, the provost courts and courts martial were utilized as a
working institution aimed at the strict implementation of military
rules and regulations in the Army.

Politicalization by means of TANGLAW and other similarly


oriented activities continued to be one of the main obligations of
the Army since 1976. With the approval of ME Plan 1-79 in 1979,
the Command intensified its implementation of TANGLAW by
conducting lectures, forums, seminars and workshop regularly and
simultaneously in every unit. This included the Philippine Army
Training Command (PATC) which made the TANGLAW module a
requirement in all training courses. Mobile training teams were
dispatched to field units to conduct seminars in Isabela,
Zamboanga, Sulu, Bicol, Samar, Basilan, Cotabato and Lanao to
propagate the program. TANGLAW lectures were attended by
officers, enlisted personnel, draftees, trainees and civilian
employees of the Army.

Hand in hand with the launching and implementation of the


TANGLAW and various ME programs, the Army also launched an
all out campaign on Troop Information and Education activities to
make the individual soldier conscious of the implications of his
conduct and performance in promoting the respect and confidence
of the people in the military. Moreover, the public information also
helped convince the people of the sincerity of the government in
promoting their welfare and achieve lasting peace in the country.

In consonance with the AFP’s Civil Relation Program, the


Philippine Army Civil Relations and Information Service (PACRIS)
utilized all available media of communication to disseminate
information with respect to the different programs of the
government based on the premise that a “well informed target is a
wise target.” The endeavor created public understanding of the
mission and activities of the Army and gained the people’s
support, goodwill and cooperation. Through the PACRIS, the
Army increased the circulation of the Army Journal and the Army

222
News, thus informing not only the troops but likewise key officials
of the government and private agencies and various civilians who
depend much on Army capabilities and activities. This move was
in line with the Army’s policy “to sell the Army to the people”.

To supplement the aforementioned publications and


accelerate the phase of information dissemination, the PACRIS
produced a weekly Motivation and Enlightenment kit and
newsletter which contained condensed articles and features lifted
from local and international publications. Moreover, the kit served
as a reference and supplementary material for the use of
information officers in conducting ME sessions.

Other special publications of the Army, such as Guiding


Principles of the New Society I and II, Understanding the
Muslims, Psychological Operations Manual, Marcos and
Humanism Restructuring of Filipino Values and the Soldiers
Handbook were reprinted to provide more soldiers with the
working knowledge of how they could successfully achieve their
missions under the New Social Order.

Other printed media exhaustively utilized were local and


national daily newspapers, magazines and illustrated magazines
and comics. News stories and feature articles about major
activities and programs of the Army were printed in these
publications for wider dissemination and circulation which also
served as outlets for TANGLAW messages.

The Army’s information efforts were not limited to higher


headquarters alone. Each brigade and division through the
different Civilian Home Defense Forces (CHDF) groups likewise
produced their respective regular publications in the form of
journals, anniversary brochures, magazines and newsletters.
Other units had their own publications such as Spearhead of the
3rd Infantry Division, Tabak News and Journal of the 1st Infantry
Division, Jungle Fighter News of the 2nd Infantry Division,
Engineer’s Gazette of the 51st Engineer Brigade, the Diamond
News of the 4th Infantry Division and The Post of the
Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group (HHSG) PA.

223
As part of the all-out campaign to reach and inform more
individuals, both military and civilian, the Army also utilized other
media such as radio, television, stage and public assemblies for
selected audiences. The Army maintained regular radio and TV
programs in areas as far as the Visayas. Some of these programs
were “Radyo Gabay” over DWAR radio in Cabanatuan and “The
CAVALCOM Hour” over DZNG in Isabela. In Sulu, the Army
utilized the Station DPI as its broadcast medium. On the other
hand, the Civil Relations Information Service Group (CRISG)
maintained the “Tinig ng Kawal Pilipino” and “Tambayan sa
Kaunlaran” over DZCC in Cagayan de Oro. The 2CRISG had
“Kasayuran Ug Alagad” over DPI Radio in Cebu and a regular
TV program entitled “Dial OCR for Information” over Channel 9
and simultaneously over Channel 13 and the Channel 7 relay
station in Tacloban City as well as in Channel 10 in Cagayan de
Oro City. Moreover, in coordination with the National Media
Production Center (NMPC) and other TV networks, coverages of
important command events were provided. A close circuit
television system was installed at Headquarters Philippine Army
wherein current and relevant military news were shown from time
to time.

Another medium was the stage, which was used to


primarily dramatize and emotionalize messages through songs,
dances, dramas and mimes. Tasked with this undertaking were
the Philippine Army Cultural Troupe (PACT) and Lakbay-Dula. A
yearly search for the “PA Singing Soldier of the Year” was
undertaken in support of the First Lady’s Cultural Renaissance
Program. This annual search was not only designed as a mere
musical contest which became a venue through which the talents
of officers, men and women of the Army were expressed, but also
to further promote Filipino culture and to strengthen and preserve
a harmonious civil-military relationship.

The Army’s contribution to various government programs


providing the people with the basic tools of learning were em-
bodied in the Army Literacy Patrol System (ALPS). Thus program
was originally implemented in the area of the Army’s 4th Infantry
Division in the Zamboanga Peninsula where the so-called “literacy

224
vacuum” there made it ripe for an immediate drive to fight
illiteracy. Although not confined to this area alone, the vacuum left
the population prey to rebel enticements and promises. This
illiteracy problem was utilized for maximum effect by enemy which
adversely affected the image of the government and the Army’s
drive was an attempt to nullify enemy gains in this field.

The ALPS served as a counterforce to the dissidents’


psychological assaults to the minds of the illiterate. With the Army
troops as teachers, more particularly known as the “maestro
soldados” and as participants in the social life of the community
where they were assigned to, the Army was on guard against
threats of being easily swayed by black propaganda proliferating
in the countryside and in most far-flung areas. Recognizing the
people’s ignorance, literacy teams of soldier- teachers were
deployed in places like Samar, Zamboanga, Basilan, Lanao del
Norte, Northern Luzon and Rizal Province. The “barefoot
teachers,” a similar project, was likewise conducted in Isabela
and Kalinga Apayao.

The Army’s soldier-teachers imparted such basic


knowledge which benefited quite a number of illiterate children
and out-of-school youths and adults, who, because of
circumstances beyond their control, could not avail of school
education. The teams also served as focal points of military-
civilian interaction and civic-oriented activities which benefited
both the military and the civilians.

Compared with the motivation and enlightenment program


of the Army, ALPS was an innovative take off. Nearly half of the
course consisted of classroom lectures on regular academic
subjects. These included arithmetic, grammar, linguistic (Pilipino),
child and adult psychology, community development, good
citizenship, the new Constitution, Filipino values and cultural
change, health and population education, nutrition, exercises on
the systematic elimination of illiteracy, and profile studies on the
causes and virtues of literacy.

The continuing insurgent conditions in many areas of the

225
country posed a threat to Philippine National Security. Most of the
insurgent activities during these long years were on the
organization, labor unions and mass media were also enlisted to
the insurgents’ cause. The religious leftists posed a more serious
threat to the military. Priests and nuns who utilized the pulpit in
abusing special privileges granted them by the national govern-
ment posed a particularly serious threat.

As in the past, the Philippine Army was at the forefront of


the AFP’s counter-insurgency campaign in an effort to attain
social, political and economic stability particularly in depressed
areas. It participated in pacification campaigns whose strategy
centered on two major operations: direct confrontations between
the Army and rebel groups, and the pursuit of measures intended
to attract the dissidents to the folds of the law. These operations
immensely contributed to the diffusing of the secessionist and
communist elements and in effectively bringing insurgency under
control. Despite the situation, the Army, in keeping with its
mission, continued to safeguard the nation from any threat to
peace and order and supported the development program of the
national government.

The Army was able to support the government’s programs


through civic action and re-education. The national motto, “Isang
Bansa, Isang Diwa” (One Nation, On Spirit) became the battle
cry of this massive effort to politicize the people. This program
aimed to reach the rest of the Filipino populace particularly n the
anti-government side to convince them that a collective effort to
improve the lot of the Filipinos could only be achieved by
cooperative and peaceful means not by violence. These civic
activities became instrumental in bringing the AFP and the
government closer to the people who began to be enlightened of
the goals of the New Society. They were able to grasp the
sincerity of the government efforts to redress grievances, thereby
estranging the enemy from its mass base. Furthermore, the
people became as invaluable source of support to the
enlightenment program of the Philippine Army. Thus, the program
was undertaken on a continuing basis.

226
In support of the multifarious developmental programs of
the national government, the Army participated in various aspects
of nation-building, particularly in the area of infrastructure
development which added a new dimension to the traditional role
of the Filipino soldier. Through engineer brigades, the Army
involved and committed itself to this continuing task of
construction, including resettlement and rehabilitation projects. All
engineering units were tapped by the command to coordinate and
work with other government civil agencies in various government
projects ranging from massive infrastructure to relief and
evacuation assistance during calamities in the countrysides.

In Luzon and the Visayas, the 51st Engineer Brigade


continued to bring socio-economic infrastructure development,
while in Mindanao, the 52nd Engineer Brigade took charge of
infrastructure projects in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat,
Maguindanao, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Lanao, Zamboanga,
Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in coordination with the Ministry of Public
Works and Highways.

The Engineer Brigades, aside from engaging in nation-


building activities of the government together with the Army Signal
Group, provided security elements to protect vital public utilities
like the National Power Corporation (NPC), Manila Electric
Company (MERALCO), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage
System (MWSS) and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone
Company (PLDT), with the provision for a ready force to take over
management and control of operations in case of emergency in
order to ensure continuous service to the public.

In order to foster a closer relationship between the Army


and the common people, the Philippine Army conducted civic
assistance and civil relations activities. Many of these activities,
particularly medical and dental services, were given to the sick
and needy and were undertaken in areas beyond the reach of
local practitioners and rural health officers. Community
development technicians propagated diverse endeavors such as
family planning, green revolution and food sufficiency programs.
Public assistance projects such as legal aid, transportation,

227
arbitration of cases, referrals to other agencies, food and clothing
aid, harelip and goiter operations, and blood donation assistance
to indigent families and patients were relentlessly pursued to
prove the Army’s deep intention to be of service to the people.

The 2nd Infantry Division’s Second Infantry Brigade, under


Brigadier General Cesar F. Tapia, for instance, put up major
projects to let the people know that the soldier was not a
“conqueror but whose efforts, soul and spirit are directed to help
uplift the conditions of man and upgrade the quality of human life.”

Aside from the usual medical-dental civic action programs


designed to meet the health needs of the people in far flung areas,
the brigade helped the rebel returnees settle down for good. After
the rebels had surrendered and had been accepted by the
government, they were given an initial six months of livelihood
support. Other government agencies supported this program of
peace and brotherhood. The Ministry of Agriculture provided some
forty five hectares of land for the returnees to till. For the rebels
who wanted to participate in bigger-scale livelihood programs, the
Ministry of Human Settlements provided KKK loans.

Another project the brigade was involved in was aimed to


win the hearts and minds of the cultural minorities. This project
however was different from the efforts to win the Muslim groups.
In the program, the objects of aid were the people in the mountain
areas.

It should be noted that the above activities carried with


them psychological impact. Whether for long or for short terms,
the psychological messages were imparted along with the Army’s
modest accomplishments. Strategic, tactical and consolidated
psychological operations were relentlessly undertaken by the
Army in carrying out its primary mission. It conducted dialogues,
“pulong-pulong” and information drives in various remote places of
the country.

The Army carried out intensified psychological operations


by disseminating counter-subversive propaganda and handbills.

228
Civil Relations and Information Service Groups (CRISG) of the
Army’s divisions and separate brigades implemented year-round
projects such as: Projects “Mapahati” and “Maglanuh” which were
carried out by the 1st CRISG within the area of responsibility of the
1st Infantry “Tabak” Division; Projects “Kilalanin and Dugtong
Buhay” by the CRISG in the 2nd Infantry Division area; Project
“San Juanico” by the 3rd CRISG in the Visayas; Projects “Hanap-
buhay” and “Tulungan”by the 4th CRISG in the 4th Infantry Division
area; Projects “Timpuyog” and “Ugnayan” by the 5th CRISG in
Northern and Central Luzon; Project “Maguindanao” in Central
Mindanao and Project “Reach-out” by CRISG (Army) in Metro
Manila.

L to R: Soldiers undergo motivation and enlightenment programs /


A copy of “Tanglaw Lecture Notes” circulated and used in the
1980s. (PA Museum)

229
END NOTES

Chapter I

1 Headquarters, Philippine Constabulary, Public Information


Office, The Constabulary Story (Quezon City, Bustamante
Press, 1978), p. 273
2 Executive Order No. 21 October 1944. p.8
3 Claro M. Recto, Three Years of Enemy Occupation: The
Issue of Political Collaboration (Manila, People’s Publisher,
1946. p. 113
4 General Orders No. 86, Headquarters Philippine Army, 21 June
1945
5 This government agency was originally created in 1901 with Hon
J.C. Zulueta as its secretary charged with the responsibility of
overseeing the peace and order situation obtaining throughout the
country.
6 Annual Report of the Chief of Staff, AFP to the Secretary of
National Defense, July 1, 1947 - June 30, 1948, p. 8.
7 General Orders No. 135, Headquarters Philippine Army, 18
August 1945.
8 Annual Report of the Chief of Staff, AFP, to the Secretary of
National Defense, July 11, 1949 – June 30, 1950 (Manila,
Bureau of Printing, 1950), p. 48.
9 Ibid., p. 63
10 Ibid., p. 64.
11 Ibid., p. 90
12 Ibid., p. 83

Chapter II

1 Richard M Leighton, The Huk Rebellion: A Case Study in the


Social Dynamics of Insurrection (Washington D.C., Industrial
Colleges of the Armed Forces, 1964) p. 29
2 Luis Taruc, He Who Rides the Tiger: The Story of an Asian
Guerilla Leader (New York, Praeger, 1967), p. 22.
3 Handbook on the Communist Party of the Philippines
(Quezon City, Armed Forces of the Philippines, 1961), p.49

230
4 Col. Primitivo C. Milan and Lt. Col. Primitivo C. Catalan, Philip-
pine Military Policy and Strategy, 1896-1971 (Quezon City,
Office of Military History, Armed Forces of the Philippines, 1972),
p. 56
5 Leighton, The Huk Rebellion … p. 29.
6 Milan and Catalan, Philippine Military Policy and Strategy…
p. 76.
7 Executive Order No. 389, December 28, 1950.
8 Carlos Quirino, Magsaysay of the Philippines (Manila, Alemar
Press, 1958), p. 67.
9 Evening News, June 8, 1954.
10 Annual Report of the Chief of Staff, AFP to the Secretary of
National Defense, July 1, 1955 (Quezon City, GHQ, AFP, 1952)
p. 44.
11 Handbook of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
(Quezon City, Armed Forces of the Philippines, 1961). p 49

Chapter III

1 Mariano D Manawis, The Fighting Tenth (Manila, Graphic


House, 1955), p. 13
2 Ibid. p. 15
3 ibid.
4 Brig. Gen. Dionisio S Ojeda, “ The Battle of Yultong,” Ang Tala,
Vol. 1 No. 17 (April 24, 1974), p. 17
5 “The Glorious Days of the PEFTOK” (unpublished), p. 17

Chapter IV

1 “Protectorates” here meant that France had assumed superior


authority over Annam and Tongking.
2 Miguel A. Bernard, S.J., Adventures in Vietnam (Manila OBI,
1974) , p.18
3 Gregorio F. Zaide, World History (Manila, Modern Book Co.
1965), p. 113.
4 Quang Minh, “Philcon Ends Role in Vietnam.’’ Vietnam
Magazine, Vol. VI, No. 5 (1973), p.6
5 Ibid. p.7
6 ibid.

231
7 Col. Agripino R de Guzman, personal briefing notes on the
Philippine Contingent to the Republic of Vietnam p. 5-6
8 Quang Minh, “Philcon Ends Role in Vietnam.” Vietnam
Magazine p. 8
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid
11 Ibid., p.9
12 Basic Information on the 1st PHILCAGV, Report to the USND,
Annex A. par. 6
13 Ibid.
14 1st PHILCAGV Command Conference (MSS, 1976), Chart I
15 PHILCAGV After Operation Report, pp. 3-4

Chapter V

1 “Communist Exploitation of Student Radicalism in the Philip-


pines.” So the People May Know Vol. VII (Quezon City AFP).
2 Report on the Factual Basis of the Declaration of Martial
Law, p. 50-51.
3 Report on the Factual Basis of the Proclamation of Martial
Law, p. 36
4 Lilia C. Castillo. The Political Aspect of Insurgency and
Counter-Insurgency. Histories Branch, OCHA, GHQ, AFP.
(unpublished).
5 Lilia C. Castillo. Secession and Counter - Secession (un-
published)
6 Ibid.

Chapter VII

1 Milan and Catalan, Philippine Military Policy and Strategy


1896 - 1971, p. 83
2 Accomplishment Report on TI & E and Tanglaw/Filipino
Ideology for the period from 1966 to 1985.
3 Public Information Office, HPC, The Constabulary Story,
(Quezon City, Bustamante Press, 1978), p. 43
4 Letter Directive, subject: AFP Home Defense Program, GHQ,
AFP, February and November 1970,

232
5 Civil Relations Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines, AFP
TANGLAW Program: Course of Study, (Quezon City, AFP CRS)
p.1

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Leighton, Richard M. The Huk Rebellion: A Case Study in the


Social Dynamics of Insurrection. Washington D.C.,
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Manawis, Mariano. The Fighting Tenth. Manila: Graphic House,


1955.

Milan, Col. Primitivo C. and Catalan, Lt Col Primitivo M. Philippine


Military Policy and Strategy 1896-1971. Quezon City,
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233
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234
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235
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236
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237