HISTORY

HISTORY OF ARMY ENGINEER UNITS:

The military’s recent focus on community development programs initiated by the government like the Kalayaan Barangays Program (KBP) projects and other Civil Works Projects (CWP) has made the organization more visible and relevant to the people. The people now sees the military playing a different role in our society.

The soldiers are not just protecting the people but also contribute for the development of our   country.  The concept of using the military in the development programs of the government is not really new. Even in the past, the military engineers were utilized in the construction of infrastructure development projects in remote and conflict-affected areas of the country. And because of the versatility of the military engineers, the government had utilized them in some of its Flagship projects.

One classic example of the employment of military engineers was the Construction of Manila North Diversion Road. It was during the first term of the late President Marcos that the Manila North Diversion Road, now called North Luzon Expressway was constructed with the help of the AFP Engineering Construction Unit.

It was a decision of the national leadership that time to tap the services of the military engineers because the government encountered various problems with the   private contractor undertaking the road project. Said private contractor for some reason stopped the work and pulled out their engineer equipment from the work site. Also at that time, no other contractor found the job attractive because the Northern Extension of the road would pass through swamp lands. The government responded to the problem by utilizing the army engineer unit to complete the unfinished job of the private contractor. The Battalion size engineer unit was equipped with a conglomeration of equipment borrowed from the Philippine National Railways and other government agencies. As a result, the east lane of the Manila North Diversion Road was completed by military engineers in a year time.

After that landmark accomplishment, another significant project was given to military engineers - the Construction of Epifanio De los Santos Avenue (EDSA) road located between Cubao and Shaw Boulevard. The effectiveness of the engineer unit in undertaking infrastructure projects was readily recognized by the government. As a result, the military leadership planned to strategically position Engineer units on the three (3) main regions of the country in order to become more effective.

 

Filipino genius Epifanio delos Santos and the famous thoroughfare (circa 1987) named after him

THE BIRTH OF ARMY ENGINEER UNITS:

The first Engineer Construction Group (ECG) was activated on February 8, 1954 and established its headquarters at Libis, Quezon City alongside Marikina river called Santolan Barracks. The unit was reorganized on December 2, 1957 and re-designated as  511th Engineer Construction Group (511th ECG). The effectiveness of the 511th ECG in undertaking development projects of the government impressed the late President Ferdinand E Marcos. In fact, the President announced in a joint session of Congress in 1966 his plan to utilize more the engineer unit of the Philippine Army in undertaking infrastructure development projects of the government.

Thus, resulted the creation of the 51st Engineer Brigade, PA on July 15, 1966. The pioneer engineer unit covers the entire country as its Area of Operation. Due to its wide area of operation, the military leadership again planned to regionalize the Area of Operation of the engineer unit. The plan materialized in 1974 when the 52nd EBde was activated taking the whole Mindanao Province as its AOR.  But said reorganization resulted in the shortage of engineer unit operating in the Visayan island. Only two Engineer Construction Battalion of the 51st Engineer Brigade were left catering the basic infrastructure requirements of the Visayas. The added problem of peace and order in the areas of Panay, Negros, Bohol, Leyte and Samar forced private construction companies not to participate in the development tasks. The two engineer battalions in the Visayas at that time were unable to cope up with the increasing demand of infrastructure projects for countryside development.

ACTIVATION OF THE 53rd ENGINEER BRIGADE, PHILIPPINE ARMY:

Then, on August 26, 1985, the 53rd Engineer Brigade was activated. The Brigade’s Area of Operation covers the whole Visayas in order to provide better engineer services for the peace and development programs of the government in this central part of the country. Some of the important highlights of its activation are as follows:

  • During the early stage of its activation, the unit established its headquarters at the old Bachelor Officer’s Quarters in Fort Bonifacio.
  • On October 16, 1985, the personnel and equipment of the 543rd Engineer Construction Battalion and the 552nd Engineer Construction Battalion from the 51st Engineer Brigade were transferred to the Visayas. On that same date, the Brigade headquarters of the 53rd Engineer Brigade transferred its location to Bula, Mabusao, Capiz.
  • On June 16, 1986, the 546th Engineer Construction Battalion from 52nd Engineer Brigade was assigned to 53rd Engineer Brigade.
  • On October 14, 1986, the Philippine Army tasked the 53rd Engineer Brigade to undertake the construction of the Military Base in Capiz. The Brigade Headquarters was then transferred to Camp Macario Peralta Jr in Jamindan, Capiz.
  • On December 5, 1988, the 542nd Engineer Construction Battalion was activated giving more strength to the work force of the Brigade.
  • On 01 July 1991, the Brigade finally established its headquarters at its present location at Camp Lapu-lapu, Cebu City.