The Philippine Army (PA; Filipino: Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas; Spanish: Ejército Filipino), is the main oldest and largest branch and ground arm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) responsible for ground warfare. Its main general headquarters is located at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, Metro Manila.
Years of Spanish rule, which dragged on to almost three centuries made the Filipinos restive. They were soon clamoring for reforms and an end to oppressive friar rule. In 1896, Andres Bonifacio founded the Katipunan to prepare his band of Filipinos for armed revolt against the Spanish government. The Katipunan formed an army of insurgent.
Almost a year after the outbreak of hostilities between the Katipuneros and the Spanish troops, Emilio Aguinaldo's Philippine Revolutionary Government and its Army were born on March 22, 1897 at Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabon in Cavite. General Artemio Ricarte was named Captain General of the Ejercito en la Republica de las Islas Filipinas or the revolutionary Philippine Army. This date marks the founding day of the modern day Philippine Army.
On June 12, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine Independence from Spain and formed the First Philippine Republic, in which he sat as its President. The Filipino troops were to enjoy only a brief respite from combat when American forces came in to establish rule in the islands by virtue of theTreaty of Paris, which Spain co-signed with America on December 10, 1898. The treaty ceded the Philippines to the United States.
Philippine-American War (1899-1902)
During the final years of the Philippine–American War, with the notable successes by the all-Filipino Macabebe Scouts cavalry squadron (raised in 1899) under U.S. command against the Philippine Revolutionary Army (PRA), the American President Theodore Roosevelt officially sanctioned the raising of the Philippine Scouts (PS) as part of the United States Army, with full effect starting from October 1901. Earlier, in August that same year, came the colonial civil government's decision to found the Philippine Constabulary (PC) as the national gendarmerie force for law enforcement. Both of these organizations and their victories over the PRA contributed to the official end of the conflict in 1902, even as resistance continued (inclusive of the Muslims of the south, resulting in the Moro Rebellion) through 1914.
Starting in 1910, Filipino personnel in the Philippine Scouts were sent to the United States Military Academy with one PS soldier being sent per year. Several of these graduates who served with the Scouts, plus PC officers, both formed part of the first officer corps of the revitalized Philippine Commonwealth Army (PCA) established in December 21, 1935.
Commonwealth Period (1935–1946)
Main Article: Philippine Commonwealth Army
The Philippine Commonwealth Army of today was initially organized under the National Defense Act of 1935 (Commonwealth Act No. 1) that formally created the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The act specified that in so far as may be practicable, original appointments by the President in grades above third lieutenant should be made from among former holders of reserve commissions in the United States Army, from among former officers of the Philippine Scouts and Philippine Constabulary.
After the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth on November 15, 1935, President Manuel L. Quezon sought the services of General Douglas MacArthur to evolve a national defense plan. The official rebirth of the Philippine Commonwealth Army (PCA) occurred with the passage of Commonwealth Act No. 1, approved on December 21, 1935, which effected the organization of a Council of National Defense and of the Army of the Philippines. The act set forth the organizational structure of the army in some detail, set forth enlistment procedures, and established mobilization procedures. With this act, the AFP was officially established.
The development of the new Philippine Commonwealth Army (PCA) was slow. The year 1936 was devoted to the building of camps, organization of cadres, and the special training of instructors, drawn largely from the Constabulary, which joined the new force as the Constabulary Division. The commander of the Philippine Department provided Philippine Scouts as instructors and detailed U.S. Army officers to assist in the inspection, instruction, and administration of the program. By the end of the year instructors had been trained and camps established.
The first group of 20,000 men was called up on January 01, 1937; and by the end of 1939 there were 4,800 officers and 104,000 men in the reserves. Infantry training was given at camps scattered throughout the Philippines; field artillery training was concentrated in the vicinity of the U.S. Army's Fort Stotsenburg near Angeles, about fifty miles north of Manila, and specialized training was given at Fort William McKinley just south of Manila. Coast artillery instruction was carried on at Fort Stotsenburg and at Grande Island in Subic Bay by personnel supplied largely by the American commander at Corregidor.
A decade later, with the threat of war with Japan becoming imminent, on July 26, 1941 a new U.S. command in the Far East was created, known as the United States Armed Forces Far East (USAFFE) under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. On the same date, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued a Presidential Order (6 Fed. Reg. 3825) which called the Philippine Commonwealth Army (PCA) into the service of the Armed Forces of the United States. The Presidential Order did not order all the military forces of the Philippine government into the service of the United States Armed Forces. Only those units and personnel indicated in orders issued by a general officer of the United States Army were mobilized and made an integral part of the United States Army Forces Far East (USAFFE), and only those members of a unit who physically reported for duty were inducted. With an annual appropriation of 16 million pesos, the mobilized units trained new Filipino members in defending the nation and protecting its people.
World War II (1941-1945)
Main Article Philippine Army in World War II, United States Armed Forces of the Far East, Military Area of the Philippine Commonwealth Army & United States Armed Forces in the Philippines - Northern Luzon
When World War II broke out in 1941, two regular and ten reserve divisions of the Philippine Commonwealth Army (PCA) undertook the defense of the Philippines. These divisions were incorporated into the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) under the command of General Douglas MacArthur.
Japanese Imperial forces invaded the Philippines after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu on December 07, 1941. At this time, two regular and ten reserve divisions of the Philippine Commonwealth Army (PCA) undertook the defense of the Philippines. This included North Luzon Force (under then Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright), South Luzon Force activated December 13, 1941 under Brig. Gen. George M. Parker Jr., the Visayan-Mindanao Force under Colonel William F. Sharp in the southern islands (61st, 81st, and 101st Infantry Divisions plus three other regiments), and the Reserve Force. North Luzon Force included the 11th, 21st, and 31st Infantry Divisions, all reserve. South Luzon Force include the 1st (regular) Division, and the 41st, 51st, and 71st (reserve) Infantry Divisions. These divisions were incorporated into the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE).
After the Battle of Bataan, the Japanese Imperial forces were began the siege and Battle of Corregidor. Defending forces included regiments of the Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays, the 4th Marine Regiment and other Philippine, U.S. Army and Navy units and soldiers. Japanese forces landed at Corregidor on May 05, 1942. The island's fall led to the surrender of all defending Filipino and American forces on May 06, 1942. About 4,000 of the 11,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war from the island were marched through the streets of Manila to incarceration at Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila and Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, Rizal, which had become Japanese camps.
With the fall of Corregidor, Filipino and U.S. forces under U.S. command surrendered. After the surrender, thousands of Filipinos formerly under U.S. command (especially the former Visayan-Mindanao Force, which had seen little combat) evaded Japanese confinement and hid in the jungle. Every major island had the recognized guerrilla groups; Luzon had a dozen, including the Communist Hukbalahaps. After initial clashes based on religious and political rivalries order was gradually restored, with most willing to trust the United States to grant independence in time. Many of these groups worked under the control of General Douglas MacArthur's General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area. The Japanese occupation of the Philippines saw repeated combat between the Japanese imperial forces, their collaborators among the Philippine Commonwealth military and the recognized guerrillas. The American and Allied liberation force which began landing on October 17, 1944 was aided by local Filipino soldiers under the Philippine Commonwealth Army (PCA) and Philippine Constabulary (PC) including the recognized guerrillas in the Allied Liberation of the Philippines.
President Sergio Osmena and Major General Basilio J. Valdez ordered the re-establishment of the Commonwealth Army. The general headquarters of the Philippine Commonwealth Army and the United States Armed Forces in the Far East moved to Tacloban, Leyte on October 23. From October 17, 1944 to September 02, 1945, local constable troops of the Philippine Constabulary (PC), recognized guerrilla units and the American liberation forces fought Imperial Japanese and Kempeitai troops which were supported by the Bureau of Constabulary and Makapili militias.
After the restoration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines on October 20, 1944, President Sergio Osmena, the government, military officials and cabinet returned from exile in the United States.
After the war, four military areas were activated to take the place of military districts. The Armed Forces was reorganized which gave birth to the four major services of the Armed Forces. Headquarters National Defense Forces was renamed General Headquarters Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Service of the Philippine Commonwealth Army (PCA) as part of the United States Army terminated as of midnight, June 30, 1946, by authority of General Order #168, Army Forces Western Pacific. The next day, on July 01, President Manuel Roxas issued Executive Order No. 94 s. 1947 which, among other things, reorganized the Philippine Army into a service branch of what was now called the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This resulted in the formation of the Philippine Air Force and reformation of the Philippine Navy as separate organizations after long years as part of the Philippine Army.
In the early fifties and the mid-sixties, the Philippine government extended a helping hand to war-torn countries as part of its commitment as member of the United Nations.
In 1950, would see the new army not just fighting Communist groups in Luzon but from August of that year, even the Korean People's Army and their allies in the People's Liberation Army in the Korean War as PA Battalion Combat Teams (BCTs) forming the bulk of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) formed part of the UN forces, led by the US, that fought in the conflict. The decade saw the raising of the first active division of the Army, the 1st Infantry Division was also known as Tabak Division. With the victory over the Huks later in the 50s, the BCTs became active duty infantry battalions. Formed in the same time was the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment, and in 1962 the PA raised its airborne and special forces formation, the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) following the traditions of the U.S. Army Special Forces (the Green Berets) and the 11th Airborne Division that helped liberate Southern Luzon and Manila at the closing stages of the Japanese occupation of the country.
It would only take until the 1970s and the Communist and Muslim rebellions that would force the PA into the establishment of its 2nd Infantry Division was also known as the Jungle Fighter Division, which led to the raising of more infantry divisions all over the country, as well as the formal raising of the Army's Special Operations Command and what is now today the Mechanized Infantry Division.
The functions of the Philippine Army are:
- Organize, train and equip Army forces for the conduct of prompt and sustained combat operations on land;
- Prepare such units as may be necessary for the effective prosecution of national defense plans and programs and Armed Forces mission, including the expansion of the peacetime Army component to meet any emergency;
- Develop, in accordance with the other major services, tactics, techniques and equipment of interest to the Army on field operations;
- Train, organize and equip all Army reserve units; and
- Perform such functions as the higher authorities may direct.
The Philippine Army has several regular units dedicated to counter-insurgency and conventional army operations.
- 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division
- 2nd Infantry (Jungle Fighter) Division
- 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division
- 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division
- 5th Infantry (Star) Division
- 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division
- 7th Infantry (Kaugnáy) Division
- 8th Infantry (Storm Trooper) Division
- 9th Infantry (Spear) Division
- 10th Infantry (Agila) Division
Armor and Cavalry
- 1st Mechanized Infantry Division (formerly Light Armor Division)
- 2nd Mechanized Infantry "Makasag" Battalion
- 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion
- 4th Mechanized Infantry (Kalasag) Battalion
- 5th Mechanized Infantry "Kaagapay" Battalion
Combat Support Units
- Army Signal Regiment
- Army Artillery Regiment
- Civil-Military Operations Group
- Intelligence Security Group
Service Support Units
- Army Reserve Command
- Training and Doctrine Command - Training Command, Philippine Army, established 1986, was reorganised as TRADOC effective March 01, 1995.
- Army Support Command
- Finance Center
- Philippine Army Band (formally known as Headquarters Philippine Army Band)
- Philippine Army Nurse Corps
- Philippine Army Medical Corps
- Philippine Army Security and Escort Battalion
The Philippine Army has a number of units dedicated to special operations. These units report directly to the Philippine Army Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
- Philippine Army Official website
- Department of National Defense Official Website
- Armed Forces of the Philippines Official Website
- Office of the President Official Website
- Philippine Government Arsenal Official Website
- Philippine Military Academy Official Website
- Philippine Armed Forces additional Information site