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Ill-equipped AFP was decisive at the height of Mindanao rebellion


(BY: REX G. MIRAVITE) The AFP was at its highest state of alertness and preparedness when it was ill-equipped and confronted with security problems in all fronts at the heights of rebellion in 1970’s.

The regular AFP soldiers were augmented by newly created Army and PC battalions composed of half-baked trainees due to the emergency situation and deployed throughout Mindanao under AFP Major Unit and different task forces as follows:
1. Lanao civic action force (LANCAF) in Lanao Provinces.
2. Central Mindanao Command (CEMCOM) in Cotabato Provinces.
3. PC task force Pagkakaisa under CEMCOM in Maguindanao.
4. 4th INF Division (PA) covering Western Mindanao and Basilan;
5. Task Force BAGAY of the PC in Sulu
6. Task Force Tawi-Tawi of the Philippine Marines in Tawi-Tawi (known as TF TT).

All the above maneuvering AFP units were placed under the operational control of the newly created Southern Command (Southcom) in 1976 under Rear Admiral (RAOM) Romulo Espaldion.

The AFP with the support of Civilian Home Defense Forces (CHADF) succeeded with flying colors in neutralizing the secessionist group (MNLF) in 1970’s and 1980’s that ended in the conference table for the signing of peace agreement on 6 September 1996 in Zamboanga City between the GRP and MNLF.

The GRP Panel was headed by a veteran former AFP Chief of Staff, Ambassador Manuel T. Yan.

Never in the history of the country that the AFP under General Romeo Espino was so decisive to confront threats to its national security despite AFP’s limited firepower capability in the 1970’s where 2/3 of its units were deployed in Mindanao.

(The author was the ground operations officer of U-3 Division of the newly created southern command (Southcom) in 1976 at the height of rebellion as a PC Captain.)

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