The Philippine Constabulary (PC) (Filipino: Hukbóng Pamayapâ ng Pilipinas) (HPP) was the oldest of four service commands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It was a gendarmerie type para-military police force of the Philippines established in 1901 by the United States-appointed administrative authority. It was later integrated and replaced by the current Philippine National Police on the 29th of January, 1991.
The Philippine Constabulary (PC) was established on August 8, 1901, by authority of Act. No. 175 of the Philippine Commission, to assist the United States military in combating the remaining Filipino revolutionaries then led by General Emilio Aguinaldo. The Philippine Revolution's demise came with the capture of Aguinaldo in 1901 and the surrender and execution by one of its last remaining generals, Macario Sakay in 1906.
The insurrection, continued disorder and brigandry alarmed the civil government which prompted Hon. William Howard Taft, President of the second Philippine Commission to maintain and establish an Insular Police Force to complete the pacification of the islands. The PC was entrusted into the hands of Captain Henry T. Allen of the 6th U.S. Cavalry, a Kentucky-born graduate of West Point (Class 1882) who was named as the chief of the force and was later dubbed as the "Father of the Philippine Constabulary". With the help of four other army officers, Captains David Baker, W. Goldsborough, H. Atkinson, and J.S. Garwood, Captain Allen organized the force, trained, equipped and armed the men as best as could be done under the most difficult conditions prevailing at the time. Although bulk of the officers were recruited from among the commissioned and noncommissioned officers of the US Volunteers, two Filipinos qualified for appointment as 3rd Lieutenants during the first month of the PC, - Jose Velasquez of Nueva Ecija and Felix Llorente of Manila. Llorente retired as Colonel in 1921 while Velasquez retired as Major in 1927.
A milestone in training of the Constabulary soldiers was achieved when the PC school was established in February 17, 1905 at the Sta. Lucia barracks at the Walled City (Intramuros). In 1908, the school was transferred to Baguio when in 1916 the school was renamed Academy for Officers of the Philippine Constabulary. In 1926, the school was renamed the Philippine Constabulary Academy. When the Philippine Army came into being in 1936 (per Commonwealth Act No.1, Executive Order No. 11 issued on January 11, 1936), the institution became the present-day Philippine Military Academy. The school is the main source of regular officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which prior to 1991 included those of the Philippine Constabulary.
Also worth mentioning is the formation of the famed Philippine Constabulary Band on October 15, 1902 by Colonel Walter Loving upon the instructions of Civil Governor Taft, who was known as a music lover. It will be recalled that among the many things for which the Philippines was famous abroad before the last world war was the PC Band.
The motto of the PC Corps was: Always outnumbered but never outfought!
A milestone in PC history came on December 17, 1917. After a succession of Americans as heads of the organization for 16 years, a Filipino from Rizal province, in the person of Brig. Gen. Rafael Cramé, was appointed Chief of the Constabulary. The PC (now PNP) Headquarters in Quezon City has been named after him.
In 1935, a large tract of land was acquired in the New Manila Heights area, now part of Quezon City, for the future use of the Headquarters of the General Service Troops. This area, which soon became Camp Crame, Camp Murphy (now known as Camp Aguinaldo), and Zablan Field, site of the original air arm of the PC, was exchanged by the Manila City government for the old Gagalangin barracks compound in Tondo.
Under the National Defense Act of 1935, promulgated by General Douglas MacArthur (then newly appointed as commander in chief of the Philippine military), the PC became the backbone of the Philippine Regular Army, later re-established after World War II and was known as both the Philippine Constabulary and as the Military Police Command. It consisted of soldiers trained in military police duties who had a nationwide jurisdiction.
The move to abolish the national police force and to make it a nucleus of a Philippine Army got underway when the Army of the Philippines was created in 1936. Thus, the transfer of the PC to the regular force of the new military organization was effected under the provisions of Sec. 18 of the National Defense Act, and pursuant to Executive Order No. 11 of President Manuel L. Quezon dated January 11, 1936. The Constabulary was inactivated on this date and was known as the Constabulary Division, Philippine Army. The PC was not gone but got submerged in a bigger organization. Thereafter, the insular police duties, formally reposed in the PC, was discharged by a "State Police" created by Commonwealth Act No. 88 dated October 26, 1936.
After turning over the former Constabulary duties to a State Police, which proved to be short-lived and unsuccessful, the Constabulary was revived as a military police force in June 23, 1938 by Commonwealth Act No. 343. By operation of the CA 343, the State Police was abolished and its military police duties reverted to the PC. President Quezon himself recommended to the National Assembly that the State Police be abolished and in its place the PC was to be reconstituted into a separate organization, distinct and divorced from the Philippine Army, which was for "national defense".
The PC once again existed as an independent force retaining all duties in maintaining peace and order and protection of life and property. One of the most significant provisions of the law re-creating it was that which provided that officers and enlisted men detached from the army and transferred to the PC shall retain their identity and legal rights and obligations as officers and enlisted men of the army; that the President may, at his discretion, transfer at any time any officer or enlisted man to and from the army to the Constabulary, respectively; and that all services performed in the Constabulary shall count for all legal purposes as military service. Thus, began the linear roster of officers for both the Constabulary and the Armed forces up until the PC was merged with the Integrated National Police in 1991.
In May 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed a state of emergency in the continental United States and in all her protectorates, including the Philippines. With the organization of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) in July, the Philippine Army and the Constabulary prepared their combat units. The PC was inducted to the USAFFE and was organized into three infantry regiments for participation in the defense of the country.
On October 15, the 1st PC Regt. was inducted into the USAFFE by Brig, Gen. George M. Parker in Camp Crame, after which it was moved to the Balara cantonment area in Quezon City, where the men were trained as combat team on the regiment level.
The 2nd and the 3rd Regts. were inducted into the USAFFE on November 17 and December 12, respectively. The 1st and the 2nd were assigned to safeguard public utilities vital to the survival of the growing population of Greater Manila Area.
War broke out on December 8, 1941. The two PC regiments less the 2nd Battalion of the 1st which was ordered to proceed to Bataan immediately, were assigned in Manila to arrest all aliens believed to be sympathetic with the enemy. In additions, these units were ordered to safeguard centers of communication and all public utilities in the city and of securing the metropolitan area against subversive elements. Soon, a protective cordon around Manila was formed by units of the two PC regiments.
By January 1942, most of the “constables” were in Bataan peninsula with other Fil-American troops. “On Bataan and Corregidor, in Aparri, Lingayen and Atimonan, everywhere in the islands were the invaders dread to set foot, Constabulary troops distinguished themselves in action against overwhelming odds.”
On December 29, the 4th PC Regiment was activated and constituted by PC units from the provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampangga, Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Zambales. Two days later the regiment was ordered to Bataan.
On April 9, the inevitable bitter end came. Maj. General Edward P. King Jr., CO, Southern Luzon Force, to prevent the unnecessary slaughter of his war-torn troops, negotiated the surrender of the Bataan- Fil American troops with the Jap High Command. Thus, Bataan fell on the historic 9th of April, 1942 and the thousands of Fil-American troops who heroically defended this hallowed ground became prisoners of war.
During the Japanese occupation, the enemy, through the use of force and threats, organized their own version of the Philippine Constabulary which they called the Bureau of Constabulary. A handful of former PC officers and men were rounded up and forced to work with this outfit with the threat that their loved ones would be harmed; majority of the men who escaped managed to find their way into the hills where they joined the resistance movement until liberation came in 1944.
It is a fact that much of the stigma that haunted the PC was the result of the establishment by the Japanese of their version of the Constabulary. Many had the wrong impression that the occupation Constabulary was the same force as that of the pre-war organization.
The Philippines was liberated late in 1944 and early in 1945. Thereafter, the problem of restoring peace and order from the general chaos and disorder arising from the war came up. The Constabulary went on active service with the Philippine Army by virtue of President Sergio Osmeña’s Executive Order 21, dated Oct. 28, 1944. In the reorganization, that followed, the Military Police Command, USAFFE, was created pursuant to USAFFE General Orders No. 50 Another Order, General Orders No. 51 dated July 7, 1945 redesignated the organization as MPC, AFWESPAC.
A major revamp in the Armed Forces set-up was effected on March 30, 1950 when President Elpidio Quirino issued E.O. No. 308 which called the merger of the Philippine Constabulary with the Armed Forces, making it one more major command. Due to the unstable peace and order conditions existing in the countrysides brought about by the resurgence of the Hukbalahap (Huk) which require more personnel strength, the Philippine Army was called upon to assist in the pacification drive with the employment of its combat arms - the Battalion Combat Teams or BCTs, with PC men absorbed by the BCTs. It was by virtue of E.O. 308 and pursuant to Administrative Order No. 113, dated April 1, 1950, the PC was formally merged with the Armed Forces of the Philippines; the merger was completed on July 27, the same year. Under the E.O., the power of executive supervision and all authority and duties exercised by the Secretary of Interior in relation to the PC or its individual members were transferred to and exercised by the Secretary of National Defense. With the appointment, on American advice, of former USAFFE guerilla Rep. Ramon Magsaysay as Secretary of National Defense in September 1950 and the subsequent appropriation by Congress of more funds for the drive against the Communist movement in the Philippines, more BCTs were formed.
The delineation of the missions of the then four major services - Philippine Army, Philippine Constabulary, Philippine Navy, and Philippine Air Force - were underlined by EO No. 389 dated December 23, 1950, which abolished the Philippine Service Command and the Philippine Ground Force. Headquarters Armed Forces of the Philippines became known as "General Headquarters, Armed Forces of the Philippines"; while General Headquarters, Philippine Constabulary became known as "Headquarters, Philippine Constabulary", the nomenclature it had in the prewar years. Also, the major commands were abolished and in their places were activated the four major services. As defined in Executive Order (E.O.) No. 389, the main function of the PC was maintaining peace and order within the country.
In the reorganization that followed, the four Military areas created pursuant to EO No. 94, series 1947, were not altered substantially, but were nevertheless placed under the administrative and operational control of GHQ, AFP.
PC's Missions were as follows:
The PC covered a very extensive range of diversified missions that do not fall under its primary responsibilities. By express provision of law, the PC enforced the motor vehicles law, fishing and games law, the alien law for registration and fingerprinting, and anti-dummy law, and the nationalization of retail trade law. By direction of the President, it enforced the tenancy law, the law on scarp metal, iron and gold, ban on slaughter of carabao, etc. By deputation, it enforced immigration law, customs law, forestry law, quarantine law, election law, public service law, and amusement law and weight and standards on rice and palay. As a civic function, it performed in conjunction with the SWA and the Red Cross disaster relief. The security of VIPs was a routine requirement for the constabulary.
The Commandant of the Philippine Constabulary was also the Chief of the Integrated National Police (the municipal police force for the larger towns and cities).
The PC was organized on similar lines to the army, and consisted of a General Staff located at its General Headquarters at Camp Crame, Manila, and 12 Regional Commands (under a Regional Director) consisting of 104 Provincial Commands (under a Provincial Commander); these controlled the 450 PC Companies which performed all the day-to-day military police work.
The PC used to have four Field Units or Command Zones (PCZs), each of which was headed by a Zone Commander:
The Philippine Constabulary Rangers, or PC Rangers, were independent light infantry companies which served as a counter-insurgency force similar to United States Army Rangers and were organized into 12 large regional companies.
Constabulary Headquarters directly controlled many other services needed at a national level such as the Special Action Force, Central Crime Laboratory, White Collar Crime Group, and Office of Special Investigations (which was a counter intellingence group).
The Constabulary also maintained the following units:
In 1991, it was determined that a new Philippine National Police was to be formed by merging the Integrated National Police into the Philippine Constabulary, with the PC forming the basis as it had the most developed infrastructure. The PC was then removed from the Ministry of Defense and eventually civilianized through attrition and recruitment of new personnel.