By ERIK ESPINA
The oldest and largest armed institution among the major branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines celebrated this week its 122nd founding anniversary in Fort Andres Bonifacio. This was the revolutionary force under General Emilio Aguinaldo, with General Artemio Ricarte as first captain general. The Ejercito en la Republica de las Islas Filipinas was born on March 22, 1897, in Cavite during the Tejeros Convention in San Francisco de Malabon. This replaced the Katipunan “military” originally established under the KKK (Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan) or Supreme and Venerable Society of the Children of the Nation, a secret organization founded by Andres Bonifacio, seeking independence from Spain by armed revolt.
It is noteworthy that before the institutionalization of the army took place in late 1800s, a people’s or citizen’s armed force had existed/sprouted in every act of revolt or defiance in our history, starting from 1521-1907. This includes the guerillas during the Japanese Occupation in the 1940s.
Back in October 31, 1896, interestingly, Emilio Aguinaldo who headed the Magdiwang KKK, still under the shadow of the Magdalo-led Katipunan of Bonifacio issued two decrees in Kawit, Cavite. One decree put in place the army organization, the citizen’s force, and the army structure: “The revolutionary army shall be composed of three corps of ten thousand men under the command of three generals and a commanding general. The central committee shall be composed of a president, a vice president, and the following members: Commander in Chief, a treasurer, an intendant, a judge advocate general, and a secretary”
This may be a gleaning of the thinking of Aguinaldo early on, before the Tejeros confrontation with Bonifacio leading to the fall of the “Bonifacista” Philippine Revolution, and the rise of Cavite’s son.
“Serving the people. Securing the land. For our country, we will give all” – this is the heroic motto of the current Philippine Army (PA). Happy Anniversary to all the PA officers and personnel. Mabuhay!