Special Action Force

The Philippine National Police Special Action Force

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during its incipient stage was composed of four large organizations, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Philippine Constabulary (PC). In the early 80’s, President Marcos saw the need to create elite units within the components of the AFP to streamline its operations, to address the various threats to national security, and revitalize the military. The Special Action Force became the elite unit of the PC in May 16, 1983 under then LT GEN FIDEL RAMOS, the Vice Chief of Staff and Chief, PC. The newly formed unit was initially composed of 60 battle-tested and highly skilled soldiers; only the best warriors coming from the PC Long Range Patrol, Special Operations Group, Light Reaction Unit and other PC striking units. PC MAJ REYNALDO V VELASCO became its first commander.

As told by its original members, PC SAF then can be compared to the United States Ranger by all standards. Each trooper was issued 3 pairs of US Woodland Camouflage, a long and short modern firearm with “bottomless” ammunitions and state-of-the-art equipments. Combat Pay was always on time and there was adequate supply of combat shoes, mosquito nets, blankets, beddings, foams and shelter halves. All these benefits came with a high cost because each trooper was confronted with a regimented life and very challenging field duties that became the cornerstone of today’s élan and prestige of the SAF as a unit.

From the first billeting area in Camp Crame, the troops transferred location at Camp Castañeda (presently PNPA) in Silang, Cavite where they found themselves in a dilapidated building and with poor living conditions. The troops improved and developed the place while having rigorous training with 1LT LEOCADIO SANTIAGO (present SAF Director), 1LT AGER ONTOG, 1LT RODRIGO FERNANDEZ, and other officers supervising the troops. The First PC RANGER Course with PC CAPT SILVERIO D ALARCIO JR as Course Director was opened to further elevate the skill of personnel.

In 1985, the SAF moved back to Camp Crame where they are in the heart of the Nation’s Capital when hostile situation arise. Also, it was the Aquino’s transitional government that required the need to consolidate the military and police forces in NCR. A year after was the EDSA revolution where the SAF played a significant role having fortified Crame, and helped bring troops inside the camp during the 4-day National Event. They also composed the core group of the early military oppositionist forces, the first batches of the military that broke away from Marcos. Corazon Aquino was catapulted into power with the People Power but her administration was likewise confronted with several problems from martial law. President Aquino weathered several coups in her term as President. Throughout this time, the SAF, were doing anti-insurgency operations in the provinces. A SAF company was always left behind in the barracks, ready to be called in case of emergencies. In the middle half of those times, SAF deputy PC CAPT AVELINO I RAZON became the commander of the SAF and under his leadership, the SAF became an anti-coup force during those crucial times. LT COL HERMOGENES EBDANE became the last Commander of the SAF under PC.

In January 29, 1991, Republic Act 6975 was signed by President Aquino and with it, the PC-SAF became the PNP-SAF. The objective of the said Act was the need to reshuffle and revamp every government agency to facilitate the transition of the government from Dictatorship to Democracy. On this time, the SAF was restructured to a brigade-size mobile force composed of the Force Headquarters, Combat Support Unit, Recon Battalion and 3 SAF Battalions. Reorganization took place within the unit creating 3 Special Action Battalions in 1992 under SAF Commander PCSUPT ENRIQUE BULAN.

As years went by and new commanders came in, the SAF began to cater to urban criminalities but remained intensive on its Internal Security Operations in the countryside. The proficiency and discipline of SAF Troopers led to the detail of some troopers to other PNP Units to help in Special Operations. The SAF likewise became the Operational Backbone of the Presidential Anti Organized Task Force (PAOCTF) under PDG PANFILO LACSON. Holding to its name as an elite unit, the SAF was also tasked to provide security to high profile detainees to include Former President Estrada, ARMM Gov Nur Misuari, and Gringo Honasan.

To do all these tasking, the SAF invests in the intense training of its personnel. In 25 years, the unit has produced more than 40 Commando Classes, 46 Airborne Courses, 60 Urban Counter-Revolutionary Warfare Courses, Explosives, and other trainings. The unit also sends its personnel to undergo special schooling abroad or to cross train in the elite units of the AFP. The Special Action Force owes this status to all its snappy commanders and pioneers who lived up to the traditions and ideals of an elite unit that the country can rely on.

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