The history of the 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army traces its humble
beginnings when the 5th Infantry Brigade (Separate) was organized in 16
Oct 1972 as a major unit of the Philippine Army pursuant to General Orders
Number 153, General Headquarters, Armed Forces of the Philippines with
its station located in Camp Servillano S. Aquino in San Miguel, Tarlac.
BGen. Miguel M. Villamor was appointed as the Commanding General and the
unit's territorial jurisdiction covered Zambales, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga,
and portion of Quezon - north of Umiray River. On 29 Mar 1976, Col. Benjamin
G. Santos took charge of the Brigade.
When the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)1 formed its
military wing, the New People's Army (NPA) in 1968, many innocent people
were fooled while some were forced into joining their organization.
After the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, thousands of students came
into their ranks. However, several leaders from the CPP were jailed in
the middle of the 1970s, including Jose Maria Sison. The remaining leaders
of the NPA continued guerilla warfare and began to openly commit human
rights violations, extortion, kidnappings and urban insurrection. This
led to the downfall of the movement.
The CPP however, did not stop from recruiting members and continued to
influence unwary citizens while they take advantage of the AFP's preoccupation
with the Moro insurgents in the Mindanao islands.
In 1983 they were estimated to have 6,000 regulars but by 1986 this had
grown to 22,500 with 20% of villages under their control.
On 11 May 1981, the 5th Infantry Brigade (Separate) was elevated and became
known as the 5th Infantry Division pursuant to General Orders Number 365,
GHQ, AFP to address the growing threat of the local communist movement.
The 5th Infantry Division became distinguished as it spearheaded several
campaigns against the local communist movement starting from the renowned
Marag Valley in Cagayan, which was their sanctuary where the Headquarters of the Far North Luzon Regional Party Committee of the Northern Luzon Commission was discovered. It was also the training base of communist terrorists coming from other NPA units. Marag Valley is a vast forest land extending from the foot of Mt. Siamsanderie in Luna, Apayao to the Malababie Valley in Pamplona, Cagayan. Most of the land area is thickly forested which gives an impression of “virginity” and settlements are found along the mighty Marag River. From 1990-1993, massive operations were launched to restore peace and order situation in the area and continued operations were pursued in the areas of Paco-Zinundungan complex in the same province to Mabiga-Poguin complex in Isabela.
The campaign called for the proper orchestration and synchronization of
efforts of the Army with various sector organizations and the local government.
In effect, the masses started to withdraw their support from the deceitful
and treacherous local communist movement while several members gave up
and/or surrendered to the government renouncing the bloody communist ideology.
Support in urban areas fell and by 1991, the insurgents had 18,000 members
and falling. The Army with the full support of various sector organizations
and the local government units pressed on with the momentum to put and
end with the insurgency problem.
In desperation, the communist insurgents became suspicious of its members
and began a massive internal purge2 of the movement that killed
thousands of partisans and members on accusations of being deep penetration
agents and informers of the AFP and the Philippine intelligence community.
They also started to target US servicemen with their assassination teams
called "Sparrow Units" but these activities only lost them yet
These solid gains serve today as the foundation of a very manageable security
environment and an irreversible socio-economic up-trend in favor of the
populace in Northern Luzon.
On 07 Nov 1994, the home of the 5th Infantry Division was transferred
to Camp Upi in Gamu, Isabela and is now called Camp Melchor F Dela Cruz.
The Headquarters directs and employs three infantry brigades with its
operationally controlled infantry battalions strategically positioned
in the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Kalinga, Apayao, Cagayan,
Isabela, Ifugao, Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya.
In an effort to contribute greatly in the prevailing peace and order situation in the country, the Division sent combat units to Mindanao, particularly in Basilan and Jolo-Sulu area to bring an end to the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group. After the 77th Infantry Battalion made a remarkable stint in the area from 1999-2001, it was replaced with the full-complement of the 53rd Division Reconnaissance Company last November 2006 to June 2007 and has significantly contributed in the hunt to destroy the notorious terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.
The stable security environment in the areas of Northern Luzon has been
laboriously achieved through the years by the diligence and selfless sacrifice of each officers and men of the
5th Infantry Division, now under the dynamic leadership of Maj. Gen.
Nestor Z. Ochoa.