Tuesday, December 18, 2007

1MIB at 4

The Background

The 1MIB traces its humble beginnings in a rather abnormal security environment. Amidst the political turbulence in the early 2000’s characterized by constant threat of coup d'état and destabilization in the NCR, certain AFP units were on watch to ensure order and security. Among the army units then at the heart of Metro Manila were two Armor Separate Companies the 4th and 7th LAC which for years proved to be formidable forces that can be depended on in such times of crisis. In Malacañang, that same level of security force requirement is filled by the 1st LAC, thus completing a strategic disposition of armor units at the seat of national power and government.

Under such circumstance, Higher Headquarters may have realized certain imperatives on organizational management arising from doctrinal violations in fact. For one, the disposition already of these armor units in such geographical consideration is not in accord with the concept of good Command and Control. Unity of Command may have also been in questioned in that set up, at least, in so far as being administratively controlled by the Mother unit. Thus, on 01 July 2003, pursuant to paragraph 2, General Orders Numbers 193, Headquarters Light Armor Brigade, Philippine Army, the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion was activated. Absorbing these three separate companies, they were named in place and reorganized from armor companies to mechanized infantry companies. 1LAC became 11MIC, 7LAC as 12MIC and 4LAC completing the regular companies as 14MIC. Since its activation, the Battalion Headquarters is stationed at the Old PhilCAG compound at the back of the CMO School.
For some flashbacks, The First Light Armor (ILAC) Company (S) at Malacañang Park was activated on 16 March 1987 pursuant to section II, GO # 12, HLABde, PA dated 11 March 1987, absorbing the personnel and equipment of the 2nd Platoon of 3rd LAC, 4th Light Armor Battalion with Cpt Crisanto Reboya as the first Company Commander. Prior to its creation, or better yet, before EDSA 1986 revolution there was already an Armor unit then OPCON to the Presidential Security Command. The 1st Light Armor Company of 4LAB, under Cpt Amat I Emanuel was deployed at Malacañang to help secure the palace and the first family. After that fateful day however in February 1986 which saw the fall of the Marcos government as a result of the EDSA people power revolution, what was left of the unit was held directly under the control of the DND. Later, the 1st Armor Cavalry (1AC) under 1Lt Gregory Ramos was organized. By mid 1986, it became the 2nd platoon of the 3rd LAC of 4LAB. Its platoon leaders then in succession were; 1Lt Leonido Bongcawil, 2Lt Balingasa , 2Lt Efren De Guzman and 1Lt Ricardo Jalad. A little over a year in March 2007, 1LAC(s) was activated absorbing all its personnel and equipment and was made OPCON to the Presidential Security Guard. As a young unit since then, it had its share of contribution both in national effort towards political stability and its growth as a part of the military organization. It provided a strong base for defense of Malacañang for instance during the late 80’s that was then plagued with series of coup attempts by rebel soldiers belonging to the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM). Surmounting these troubled years since its birth, the unit punctuated the watch of Cpt Rebuya with a lasting remembrance to the PSG under Col Voltaire Gazmin. As Company Ex-O then, 2Lt John Rex Palma designed the urban camouflage striped with black, gray and white pattern and proposed its painting on the armored vehicles. Later, it was also presented to Col Gazmin, got his nod and eventually adopted it as the pattern of PSG uniform in 1992. Today, it stands out as the distinctive uniform of all PSG personnel to include OPCON units.
Major Bonifacio T De Castro took over in 01 August 1992. His tour was characterized by skills training and physical fitness to ensure unit readiness at all times. It also excelled in non-traditional mission like environmental protection activities such as the PSG clean and Green contest in 1993 where it placed 2nd. When Cpt Aniceto D Vicente assumed in 14 June 1994, this feat was maintained even coveting the highest recognition as the Best Unit for PSG Clean and Green competition for CY 1994. In the following year, it was also adjudged Best Separate Company of the Light Armor Brigade. As if to manifest trust and confidence in the unit’s capability in the same year, some of it’s personnel where committed in providing first ring area security during presidential engagements. Officers of the unit were also given additional tasks and were made members of the Security Task Action Group (STAG).

When Cpt Robert C Dauz took over on 10 January 1997, the proud unit reaped more success and honors. It topped the PSG Sports Fest ’97, the PSG Clean and Green competition and once again besting other separate companies as Best Separate Company of the Light Armor Brigade. Fortunate enough to have been continuously led by able leaders, its glory days was seem ugly endless. When Cpt William A Alunday assumed command on 10 January 2000, the legacy lived on. The unit continued to be at its best, sharing security responsibilities with the PSG for the first family and keeps on being the Best Armor Separate Company. But perhaps its most glorious moment was its display of professionalism as a unit and stuck to its mandate of helping protect the first family on two occasions. ILAC stood its ground and never abandon then President Estrada until he was safely led out of Malacañang when his government was toppled by a people power on 20 January 2001. On 01 May that year with GMA as sitting President, a mob supporting power grabbers stormed Malacañang but failed certainly because of the dedication of military units, ILAC included, in defending palace. By these, the unit made LABde, the AFP and itself prouder. On 30th May 2001, Maj Alunday passed on the leadership to Cpt Potenciano C Camba. Its past Commanders were; Cpt Crisanto C Reboya (16 Mar ’87 – 01 Aug ’92), Maj Bonifacio T De Castro (01 Au ’92 – 14 Jun ’94), Cpt Aniceto D Vicente (14 Jun ’94 – 10 Jan ’97), Cpt Roberto C Dauz (10 Jan ‘97 – 10 Jan ’00), Cpt William A Alunday (10 Jan ’00 – 30 May ’01), Cpt Potenciano C Camba (13 May ’01 – 01 Jun ’03).

The aftermath of the EDSA revolution saw reshuffling of commanders, reorganization and realignment of units of the Phil Army Light Armor Regiment (PALAR), itself upgraded and renamed to Light Armor Brigade. The 3rd LAC of the 4th Armor Battalion, then stationed at Fort Bonifacio under Cpt Belarmino had detachments to as far as Western Samar and Panay Island. Renamed Alpha Company of same Battalion, Cpt Romeo Dizon took over in 1987, the year Higher Headquarters directed the 4LAB to Support the 2nd Infantry Division because the Bondoc Peninsula became the hotbed of insurgency. Reorganization followed resulting to the activation of the 8LAC (S), absorbing the detachment of Alpha company. When the 4LAB moved to its present CP at Camp Lukban, Lucena City, elements of its Alpha Company was left behind forming the nucleus of the 4LAC (s) LABde, PA that was activated on 01 May 1988 pursuant to section I, GO # 204, HPA dtd 16 May 1988. Its first Company Commander was Maj Amado U Contreras.

From then on, the unit proved to be worthy of its being part of the contingency forces securing HPA, its environs and other government installations in times of crisis. It was part of the HPA Counter Terrorist Force organized to contain coup attempts by rebel soldiers. In 1989, it played a significant role in quelling the most serious coup attempt which almost toppled the government. It later supported elements of 701st Brigade in Cavite, Valenzuela, Bulacan, Angeles City, and the 1st and 2nd Marine Battalion at Forbes Park as member of the PACT Brigade. In June 1995, under LOI 35/95 (Kampilan) GHQ, AFP, it was made a reaction force of HPA under the AFP JTF AND AFP Counter Terrorist (ACT) Force. On 16 June 1996, it was directed to relieve in place the 7TH LAC stationed at Cp Aguinaldo. Its 1st Platoon moved to Camp Aguinaldo as soon as 7LAC left for Camp O Donell on 19 June 1996. The following year, the unit transferred to its present site at the vicinity of Civil Affairs Group, now CMOG, PA. On October 2000, the 7LAC was directed again to displace from Camp O’Donnel to Camp Aguinaldo. By the end ohf that month, its 1st Platoon moved back to its Command Post at Ft Bonifacio.

During the infamous so called EDSA 3, its 1st and 2nd platoons supported Task force EDSA Shrine while its 3rd platoon reinforced the PSG in Malacañang. When the AFP Counter Terrorist Force was dissolved, it reverted to its role as part of the Phil Army Counter Terrorist Force (PACTF) along with a company each of Rangers, Special Forces and EOD and Signal teams. Deactivated and subsequently absorbed as regular company of 1MIB on 01 July 2003, it was renamed 14MIC with Cpt Emil Rex C Santos becoming its first commanding officer. It’s lineage of commanders include Maj Amado U Contreras (16 Apr ‘88-16 Aug ‘90), Maj Mateo B Dayo (16 Aug ‘90-16 Jun ‘93), Maj Bienvenido GC Casis Jr (16 Jun ’93 – 01 Oct ’95), Maj Efren B De Guzman (01 Oct ’95 – 01 Oct ’97), Maj Ramon C Bombais Jr ( 01 Oct ’97- 01 Feb ’99), Maj Sidney V Atega (01 Feb ’99-14 Jul ‘01), Cpt Ferdinand B Lacadin (14 Jul ’01 – 01 Jul ’03)

Now the 12MIC, 7LAC was initially a part of the Deployment Force created in 1991 directly under the command and control of GHQ , AFP. With just the size of a platoon, the 7TH LAC (Provisional) was activated pursuant to GO # 16 HLABde, PA dated 16 December 1991 with Cpt Edmund T Avila (Cav) PA as the first commanding officer. It displaced to Camp Aguinaldo on February 21 1992 and was billeted along with the RDF units at the AFP Logistics Compound. On 01 March 1993, Cpt Jorge B Vargas (Cav) PA assumed command. Upon deactivation of the RDF and with a new role of helping secure Camp Aguinaldo, it transferred to its new home and its present station. By the time Cpt Edgar L Labitoria (Cav) PA took over on 4 October 1995, the company was at its full strength. On 17 July 1996, the unit displaced to Camp O’Donnell and became theRapid Deployment Force of LABde. While at HLABde, it helped in training, becoming in fact the Brigade Training Unit. 7LAC was responsible in completing four LAOT classes and administered refresher training of 4LAC and 8LAC. On same year, elements of the unit were committed to PSG in connection with the APEC Summit at Subic Freeport, Olongapo City. Two years later on June 2001, it had the opportunity of working with the PMA when it was tasked for security mission during the Joint Field Training Exercises of the Cadet Corps Armed Forces of the Philippines at Pugo, La Union and Tuba, Benguet from 26 May to 02 June 2001. The following year, it actively participated in CMO activities such as Medical and Dental mission, Civic Action and even SOT at different Barangays of Pampanga. By the 4th quarter of 2002, the unit moved again to Camp Aguinaldo and was made OPCON to the newly organized Anti – Crime Task Force. On June 2003, its OPCON status was terminated and was subsequently made OPCON to the GHQ & HSC, AFP. Upon activation of 1MIB, 7LAC was deactivated and was absorbed as a regular company of the former as its 12th MIC. Maj Castillo, the last Company Commander turned over command to Cpt Alex T Aduca (01Jul 03 – 01 Feb 04), becoming the first company commander of 12MIC. Past commanders include Cpt Edmund T Avila (16 Dec 91 – 01 Mar 93), Cpt Jorge B Vargas (01 Mar 93 – 04 Oct 95), Cpt Edgar L Labitoria (04 Oct 95 – 02 Feb 98), Cpt Leodegario Dela Paz (02 Feb 98 – 09 Feb 99), Cpt Danilo G Ibon (09 Feb 99 – 10 Feb 00, Cpt Ferdinand B Ramos (10 Feb 00 – 18 Apr 01), Cpt Pacianito DZ Castillo (18 Apr 01 – 01 Jul 03.

Such a setting hence, may have been the justification that led to the activation of an Armor unit with the size of a Battalion at NCR. And whether the political situation has normalized or not, whether an acceptable defense system has been established or not, the unit should stay and prove not only its worth but most importantly the imperative need for an Armor unit at the country’s capital and seat of power.

To set off in anything is never easy, especially when resources are limited, albeit full of challenges. That most probably was the mindset of Col Nano, the 1st Commander of the Battalion, when the gargantuan task of establishing the Battalion was put on his shoulders. There enough, much of his time and effort was devoted to settling down and started putting up administrative buildings, barracks and other basic structures.

He worked for the early completion of service support requirements that include ordnance items, quarter master items and basic needs of the unit. Organizational adjustment of its companies were also taken into consideration as well as establishment of rapport and lines of communication for better working relationship with other units involved in security operations at NCR must notably JTF Libra where it actually was initially OPCON to. Well assisted with his staff that included LTC Labitoria EL, Ex-O; Lt Bahia GS, Adj; Maj Lacadin FB, Opn & Intel Officer; Cpt Dy AV, Log and CMO Officer, the early establishment of the unit can be credited to the collective effort and sacrifices of said officers and men.

LTC Daniel V Mamaril took over the reins of leadership on 01 Feb 2004. His administration, along with security forces at NCR, were preoccupied in addressing destabilization. During lull time, he directed refresher trainings, enhanced Physical Fitness and initiated morale boosting activities. At the same time, he continued to improve the camp site in order to make the Battalion Command Post presentable. It was during his watch on 16 August 2005 when 1Lt Jean Alea y Robles reported for duty, becoming thus the first female Officer to be with the unit. She was made CMO Officer until her relief after over a year.

On 01 October 2005, LTC Edgar L Labitoria, the 3rd Battalion Commander assumed command. With 1MIB having settled down well by that time, his term got the unit into more mechanized infantry refresher training. His innovativeness resulted in the introduction of AIRSOFT as an alternative means of simulating such refresher training. According to Cpt Pereña, his operations Officer then, and himself very much well verse with AIRSOFT, the unit completed several exercises at the Adventure Zone which probably caught the attention of an army unit. Later, the LRC engaged in same exercises involving local AIRSOFT enthusiast. Still on Operations, perhaps one such experience and accomplishment they had was its role in the peaceful resolution of the Government stand off with disgruntled Philippine Marines on February 2006 at the Headquarters Philippine Marines in Fort Bonifacio.
On 01 July 2007, LTC Labitoria relinquished command to the incumbent. It is interesting to note that during the change of command ceremony on 04 July presided by the Armor Big Boss, MGen Sonny Cachuela, most of the Division Staff were in full force to grace the occasion. Isn’t that itself a feat for the unit? You’re entitled to your opinion but as far as I am concerned, that’s a good start for 1MIB to look forward to accomplishing its mission and be at its best. With that….. lets Bike, Shoot, Strike, Smash and….. Let’s rock and roar!

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