The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is the military organization responsible for the defense and security of the Philippines.
Established on December 21, 1935, the AFP plays a vital role in safeguarding the nation's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and promoting peace and stability in the country. The AFP comprises the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, Philippine Air Force, and the Technical Services.
Roles and Responsibilities
National Defense: The AFP is primarily responsible for defending the country against external and internal threats, ensuring national security and safeguarding the nation's sovereignty.
Disaster Response: The AFP plays a significant role in disaster response and relief efforts, providing assistance during natural calamities and emergencies.
Peacekeeping: Philippine military personnel are often deployed in international peacekeeping missions, contributing to global peace and security under the United Nations.
Counterterrorism: The AFP actively participates in counterterrorism operations, combating extremist groups and ensuring the safety of citizens.
Community Development: The AFP engages in various community development and civic activities, fostering positive relationships between the military and civilians.
Initially, after declaring independence in 1898, the Philippine government took on a dictatorial form. This was replaced by a revolutionary government headed by Emilio Aguinaldo as president on June 23, 1898. The First Philippine Republic was formally established with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on January 23, 1899. When it became apparent that the United States had no intention of recognizing the newly established Republic, the Philippine–American War erupted with a declaration of war by the Philippines on the United States. The Philippine Revolutionary Forces, which lacked sufficient ammunition, lost many battles. By 1901, the Filipinos had completely lost the war.
The Philippine Revolutionary Army was founded on March 22, 1897 in Cavite. The armed force of General Emilio Aguinaldo's revolutionary government, with General Artemio Ricarte as its first Captain General, replaced the Katipunan military. Though the Philippine Army grew out of forces which fought in opposition to and which defeated forces led by General Ricarte, General Ricarte is considered to be the father of the Philippine Army.
In 1901, the United States established the Philippine Constabulary for purpose of assisting in combating the remnants of the revolutionaries. The AFP was formally organized during the American Commonwealth era through the National Defense Act of 1935. The Philippine Army was initially organized from among former holders of Reserve Commissions in the United States Army, from among former officers of the Philippine Scouts and Constabulary, and others—forces involved in the defeat of the revolutionary forces which Ricarte led. Ricarte was the only revolutionary general who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the U.S. and that he lived in exile in Hong Kong and later in Japan. Ricarte was one of the leaders of an organization termed "MAKAPILIS", called Makabayan: Katipunan ng mga Pilipino, and characterized as having been a "fanatical pro-Japanese organization" during the WW-II Japanese occupation.
Philippine Commonwealth, the Cold war and Present
During the Philippine Commonwealth era, President Manuel L. Quezon, the first president of the Commonwealth, renamed the Philippine Army to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and asked General Douglas MacArthur to be its first commanding officer after the Philippines gained independence from the U.S. MacArthur accepted the offer and became the only person of foreign citizenship to be in the ranks of the AFP. MacArthur held the rank of Field Marshal, a rank no other person has since held in the AFP. MacArthur expanded the Philippine armed forces, but they were not ready for combat at the start of the Pacific War in December 1941 and unable to defeat the Battle of the Philippines 1941–42 Japanese invasion of the Philippines.
During World War II, all soldiers of the Philippine military were incorporated in the U.S. Army Forces Far East (USAFFE),with MacArthur appointed as its commander. USAFFE made its last stand on Corregidor Island in the Philippines, after which Japanese forces were able to force all remaining Filipino and American troops to surrender. After Japan was defeated in World War II, the Philippines gained its independence (its second independence – the Philippines recognizes Aguinaldo's declaration of independence in 1898 as its original year of independence).
At the height of the Cold War, the Philippines was one of the most well-equipped militaries in Asia, because of a tight diplomatic-relationship with the United States in battling the threat of Communism. Since 2001, the Philippine armed force has been active in supporting the War on terror, initiated by the U.S. and its allies.
AFP Organization Structure and Branches
The 1987 Philippine Constitution placed the AFP under the control of a civilian, the President of the Philippines, who acts as its Commander-in-Chief. All of its branches are part of the Department of National Defense, which is headed by the Secretary of National Defense.
The AFP has three major services:
These three major services are unified under the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP) who normally holds the rank of General/Admiral. The AFP Chief of Staff is primarily assisted by:
- The Vice Chief of Staff of the AFP (VCSAFP)
- The Deputy Chief of Staff of the AFP (TDCSAFP)
Both normally holding the rank of Lieutenant General/Vice Admiral.
The three highest posts of the AFP are also assisted by the Secretary Joint Staff (SJSAFP), who serves as the primary executive officer for the AFP Chief of Staff, the Vice Chief of Staff, and The Deputy Chief of Staff.
Each of the three major branches are headed by an officer with the following titles:
- Commanding General of the Philippine Army (CGPA) - Lieutenant General
- Flag Officer in-Command (FOIC) - Vice Admiral
- Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force (CGPAF) - Lieutenant General
- Commander, Unified Commands (Lieutenant General/Vice Admiral)
The Philippine Army is the ground warfare service branch of the AFP, tasked with defending the country against land-based threats.
Army personnel undergo rigorous training and are equipped to handle various military operations, including counter-insurgency, disaster response, and peacekeeping missions.
If you wanted to be enlisted, here's a guide on how to Join the Philippine Army
The Philippine Navy is responsible for maritime defense and security. It operates a fleet of ships and vessels, ensuring the protection of the country's coastal areas and territorial waters.
Navy personnel are trained to handle naval warfare, search and rescue operations, and maritime law enforcement.
Here's how to Join the Philippine Navy.
Philippine Air Force
The Philippine Air Force is in charge of aerial defense and air operations. It maintains aircraft and aviation assets, providing air support for ground and naval forces. Air Force personnel are trained as pilots, engineers, and technicians, ensuring the proper functioning of aircraft and related systems.
To join the PAF, you may follow my guide to Philippine Air Force Enlistment.
AFP Chief of Staff
The Chief of Staff of the AFP is also assisted by the 10 following office holders carry the rank of Major General/Rear Admiral, who serves as the members of the Joint Staff Divisions, at the General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo. These Joint Staff Divisions are also part of the Joint Staff, which is composed of the AFP Chief of Staff, the Vice Chief of Staff and The Deputy Chief of Staff.
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, J1
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, J2
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Organization & Training, J3
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, J4
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, J5
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, Electronics and Information Systems, J6
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, J7
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Education, Training and Doctrine, J8
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Retirees and Reservists Affairs, J9
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Financial Management, J10
The AFP also comprises the Special Staff, which is divided into two separate groups. These groups also assist the AFP Chief on their designated fields:
The Administrative Staff:
- The Inspector General (TIG) - Lieutenant General/Vice Admiral
- The Adjutant General (TAG)
- The Judge Advocate General (TJAG)
- The Chief, Chaplain Service (TCCS)
- The Provost Marshal General (TPMG)
- The Chief, Special Services (TCSPS)
- The Chief, Historical Activities (TCHA)
- The Chief, Doctrines Development (TCDD)
The Technical Staff:
- The Chief Engineer
- The Chief for Ordinance and Chemical Service
- The Quartermaster General
- The Surgeon General
- The Chief Nurse
AFP Commanding Divisions
The AFP Chief is also assisted by the following office commanding division-sized troops holders carry the rank of Major General/Rear Admiral:
- Army Division Commanders
- Naval Command Commanders
- Air Command Commanders
- The Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps
On June 19, 2020, under the DND Order no. 174, the AFP had major changes in renaming its positions in high-ranking officials, such as the following:
- Chief of Staff of the AFP - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
- Vice Chief of Staff of the AFP - Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
- The Deputy Chief of Staff of the AFP - Chief of the Joint Staff
- Commander, Unified Command - Joint Forces Commander, Unified Command
- Deputy Chief of Staff for (functional area) (J-staff) - Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff for (functional area)
- Commanding General of the Philippine Army - Chief of the Army
- Flag Officer in-Command - Chief of the Navy
- Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force - Chief of the Air Force
ATTRACTIONS TO SEE IN MANILA
The officer ranks are as follows:
|Rank group||General / flag officers||Senior officers||Junior officers||Officer cadet|
| Philippine Army|
|General||Lieutenant general||Major general||Brigadier general||Colonel||Lieutenant Colonel||Major||Captain||First lieutenant||Second lieutenant|
| Philippine Navy|
|Admiral||Vice admiral||Rear admiral||Commodore||Captain||Commander||Lieutenant commander||Lieutenant||Lieutenant (junior grade)||Ensign|
| Philippine Air Force|
|General||Lieutenant general||Major general||Brigadier general||Colonel||Lieutenant colonel||Major||Captain||First lieutenant||Second lieutenant|
|Rank group||General / flag officers||Senior officers||Junior officers||Officer cadet|
These ranks, heavily inspired by those of the United States Armed Forces, are officially used in the Philippine Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. The ranks are more frequently referred and addressed in English rather than in Spanish or Tagalog/Filipino, since English is the working language within the Armed Forces.
The ranks in the Philippine Navy are similar to the US Navy ranks, the only difference is the rank of Commodore in the Philippine Navy is equivalent to the Lower Half Rear Admiral of the US Navy.
The alternative style of address for the ranks of lieutenant junior grade, lieutenant senior grade, second lieutenant, and first lieutenant are simply lieutenant in English, or tenyente or teniente in Tagalog and Spanish, respectively.
The ranks of enlisted personnel in Filipino are the same as their U.S. counterparts, with some differences. Except in the Marine Corps, never used are the ranks of specialist, sergeant first class, and first sergeant. Lance corporal, gunnery sergeant, and master gunnery sergeant are also never used by the Philippine Marine Corps, whose ranks are the same as the Army's.
Additionally, sergeant majors in the AFP are only appointments for senior ranked non-commissioned officers (NCOs) rather than ranks, examples of such appointments being the Command Sergeant Major, AFP (held by a first chief master sergeant or a first master chief petty officer) and the Command Master Chief Petty Officer, Philippine Navy (held by an either MCPO or CMS or a SCPO or SMS).
|BRP Gregorio del Pilar|
In the Philippine Navy, they also use enlisted ranks which come from the U.S. Navy with their specialization, e.g. "Master Chief and Boatswain's mate Juan Dela Cruz, PN" (Philippine Navy).
In effect, the AFP uses the pre-1955 US military enlisted ranks, with several changes, especially in the Navy and in the senior NCO ranks.
There are no warrant officers in between officer ranks and enlisted ranks.
The uniqueness of Philippine military ranks can be seen in the current highest ranks of first chief master sergeant (for the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force) and first master chief petty officer (for the Navy), both created in 2004, and since then have become the highest enlisted rank of precedence. Prior, first chief sergeant and master chief petty officer were the highest enlisted ranks and rates, the former being the highest rank of precedence for Army, Air Force and Marine NCOs. Today only the rank of first master chief petty officer is unused, but the rank of first chief master sergeant is now being applied.
The Technical Services branches of the AFP include specialized units responsible for specific military functions such as engineering, communications, intelligence, medical services, and legal affairs. These services play a crucial role in supporting the operational effectiveness of the AFP.
ACTIVITIES AND TOURS IN MANILAThe men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines demonstrate unwavering courage, patriotism, and professionalism as they fulfill their duty to protect the nation and its people. Through their dedication and sacrifices, they contribute significantly to the country's security and stability.
|Armed Forces of the Philippines General Headquarters|
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
Headquarters: Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, EDSA, Quezon City
Facebook: Armed Forces of the Philippines
PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE, AFP
Address: FP Cruz Avenue cor. Crame Avenue, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo Quezon City, Philippines
Phone: 1110 +63 2 8911 6001 loc 6700