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The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Anniversary



On 21 December 1935, Manuel L. Quezon, the first Philippine Commonwealth president, renamed the Philippine Army into the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or AFP, by virtue of the Defense Act of 1935. This turned the US-organised Philippine Constabulary and Philippine Scouts into a revitalized Philippine Army with its naval and air force assets under the Department of National Defense. However, due to its brand new nature, President Quezon requested General Douglas MacArthur to act as its first commanding officer.


Since then, the AFP was an ally of the US in the war against the occupying Japanese in World War II. They, and the Filipino people, provided dogged resistance that severely hindered the Japanese advance across Asia and was a factor in their ultimate defeat.


After independence in 1946, the AFP also took an active part in the Korean War in the early 1950s, sending Philippine Expeditionary teams as part of the UN forces, and also sent troops during the Vietnam War in 1966. In both events, the AFP was a close ally of the US.



Helping hand in times of crisis: (Left) Last year in November after super typhoon Yolanda devastated Tacloban, soldiers of the 1st SF Battalion carry jugs of water to refugees at the Tacloban Airport. (Right) Philippine Navy transported on their ship ferries an average of 1,000 passengers from Tacloban to Mactan, Cebu daily.


In 1972 the AFP became more involved in politics when September 21st saw the beginning of almost a decade of martial law under President Marcos.


Then in 1991, during a period of anti-American feeling, Mount Pinatubo erupted and covered the key US airbase at Clark with a thick covering of volcanic ash. These political issues and the daunting cost of a clean-up also persuaded the Americans to vacate its bases. Thus responsibility for Clark and the nearby naval base at Subic transferred to the AFP.



(Top) Special Warfare Group is the Navy’s elite unit that are deployed for specialised missions. (Bottom) Promoting equal opportunity as women recruits train as Philippine Navy Scuba Divers.


In recent years, AFP has been active in containing local insurgencies and counter-terrorism in rural areas against Muslim separatists and Communist groups in rural areas.


Recently, the AFP sent troops as part of the peacekeeping UN Disengagement Observer Force or UNDOF in the Golan Heights in Syria, as well as part of the peacekeeping forces in Liberia but were sent home following the Ebola outbreak there.


One of its main daunting tasks today is to maintain peace at the West Philippine/South China Sea where China has border issues with the Philippines and some of its Southeast Asian neighbors. To beef up its peacekeeping and national security capacities, it has allocated an estimated Php144-billion budget for 2015 or US$3.2 billion, including new warships and aircraft.


As of 2012, AFP is reportedly to have a 125,000 manpower and aims to add 20,000 personnel more 3 years hence.


Today the AFP has 150,000-strong personnel, whose battle-ready capability is enhanced by regular mutual defense exercises with the US Armed Forces, who recently signed an agreement for an increased presence.


In its 79th year, the AFP has proved itself quite resourceful and street smart in maintaining peace and order with what scarce equipment is currently available at hand. With further modernization of its combat equipment, as well as its air and naval power–particularly in acquiring brand new and updated aircrafts and warships–the AFP should be able to do its job much better–even at par with its more modern neighbors–in the coming years.



Author: Expatch Editorial Team 



Photo source:

Top photo –

All other photos are courtesy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Navy

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