Camp James Basevi Ord
During the Commonwealth era, the United States military has established a camp in this piece of real estate property, which was to be named later as Camp James Ord in honor of Lieutenant Colonel James Basevi Ord, a member of the US Army serving as Assistant Military Advisor of General Douglas McArthur to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines when he died of an airplane crash at Camp John Hay in Baguio City on 30 January 1938. To add to its historicity, in commemoration of the American Independence Day on 04 July 1939, Lieutenant Colonel Dwight Eisenhower, who was then serving as Chief of Staff of General Douglas McArthur, planted a tree inside Camp James Ord – which was to become popularly known as the Eisenhower Tree.
On 30 September 1940, the Spanish owners donated the original 582.43 hectares real estate covered by Camp James Ord for the exclusive use of the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines and was accepted on 11 October 1940.
On a historical note as well, it was in 1947 in San Miguel Parish Church that Reverend Father Pedro Azcoitia, Parish Priest from 1945 to 1949, officiated the wedding of the then 72 years old legendary revolutionary leader, General Servillano Aguilar Aquino, to his third wife, Belen Sanchez.
In the meantime, an amendment to the Deed of Donation dated 16 June 1947 allowed the Commonwealth Government to dispose or dedicate the land for any purpose which its administrative officers may determine. The land area was described under Transfer Certificate Title No. 35566 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Tarlac Province dated 04 December 1959.
Transfer Certificate Title No. 35566
Notably, “An Act changing the name of Camp James Ord in San Miguel, Tarlac, Tarlac to Camp General Servillano Aguilar Aquino”, otherwise known as Republic Act 3494, was approved on 16 June 1962 and took effect.
Republic Act 3494
Thereafter, Presidential Proclamation No. 255 dated 03 June 1964 issued by then President Diosdado Pangan Macapagal reserved the real estate covered by Camp Aquino for military purposes under the administration of the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Proclamation provided the technical description of the land area of the Military Reservation and defined its boundaries and limits covering 541.05 hectares.
The first major unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to establish Headquarters in Camp General Servillano A Aquino was the 1st Military Area Command of the 5th Infantry, Philippine Army.
Pursuant to General Orders Number 153, GHQ, AFP dated 16 October 1972, the 5th Infantry Brigade (Separate) was organized as a major unit of the Philippine Army and, its Headquarters was based at Camp General Servillano A Aquino in San Miguel, Tarlac, Tarlac. Brigadier General Miguel M Villamor AFP remained as the Commanding General of the 5th Infantry Brigade (Separate), Philippine Army and served in that capacity until 24 January 1974 when the unit was elevated to 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army pursuant to General Orders Number 365, GHQ, AFP dated 24 January 1974.
General Orders Number 153
Camp Servillano Aquino
Since 1948, the designation as 5th Infantry (STAR) Division is its seventh at the present. It was initially designated as the First Military Area (FMA) on 05 May 1948. It was then activated on 06 May 1948 and absorbed the 1st and 2nd Military Districts and the 2nd Military Supply Point with territorial jurisdiction over 12 provinces and two (2) cities. These were Batanes, Abra, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, La Union, Mt. Province, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan and Tarlac, and Baguio and Dagupan Cities. The unit was temporarily stationed at Camp ORD (now Camp Servillano Aquino), San Miguel, Tarlac.
Due to the upsurge of dissidence and the deterioration of peace and order situation in 1950, the territorial jurisdiction of the military area was redefined and expanded to include Zambales, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga and a portion of Quezon Province which includes the north of Umiray River. In pursuant to Section IV, GO NR 151 HQS, AFP, all units of the Philippine Ground Force and the Philippine Constabulary (PC) within the predefined geographical limits were placed under its direct and command.
In this line, pursuant to Executive Order NR 389 dated 23 December 1950 and the provision of GO NR 355, GHQ, AFP Series 1950, the reorganization of the AFP were put into the effect. The military area was again placed under the direct command of the Chief of Staff, AFP. It resumed full control overall PC units within its territorial limits in Northern and Central Luzon. With the restoration of peace and order in its area of responsibility, the 1st Military area was reorganized pursuant to Section IV, GO NR 652, GHQ, AFP dated 22 June 1957. Its anti-dissidents mission was turned over to the PC.
However, on 1 July 1959, FMA was merged with the 3rd Infantry Division by virtue of plan “compact” and was responsible for the building up of the Citizens Army through the training for inactive reserve officers and enlisted reservists and the ROTC and CMT Instructors.
In addition, the Military Area/Infantry Division was further re-designated the 1st Military Area/1st BDE, PA to conform with its missions for the fiscal year 1963-1964 due to the implementation of the HQS PA Letter Directive that was dated on 6 August 1963.
On 1 September 1966 on the other hand, it was again reorganized with a troop ceiling of 97 officers and 734 EP pursuant to Letter Directive, HPA dated September 1966. This was followed on 10 October 1966 wherein the Infantry was further redesignated to IMA Pursuant to GO NR 116, GHQ, AFP dated on October 24, 1966.
On 1 February 1970, the 1st Military Area (IMA) was deactivated to give rise to the creation of the 1st Infantry BDE with Camp Aquino as the home station. The reorganization was in conformity with the PA Plan according to HQS PA Directive dated on same day 1 February 1970. The 1st BDE became a major unit of the 1st Infantry (TABAK), Division, PA.
With the deactivation of the ACAF, a unit engaged in civic action works in Central Luzon, the unit continues its mission to undertake civic action works and other environmental improvements in the rural areas through its Engineering Combat BN on 21 January 1972.
Upon its activation on 16 October 1972. The 5th Infantry Brigade (Separate). Philippine Army, absorbed the personnel, equipment, and records of the deactivated 1st Infantry Brigade and had jurisdiction over twelve provinces in Central and Northern Luzon, On IB June 197H it regained control over Abra, La Union, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and Pangasinan but Bulacan was retained by the 1st Infantry Division.
On 1 November 1972 the 17th Infantry Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Brigade. 2nd Infantry Division was attached to the 5th Infantry Brigade. The battalion was eventually absorbed by the 5th Infantry Brigade on 1 April 1974. There were other attachments, detachment, deactivation and activation of units that occurred to meet the needs of the prevailing situations in the years that followed.
In Pursuant to GO NR 153, GHQ, AFP the 5th Infantry BDE (SEP), PA came into being as a major unit of the PA on 16 October 1972 with BGEN Miguel M. Villamor as its CG. However, on 29 March 1976 BGen Benjamin G. Santos (then Colonel) took the command of the BDE.
One of the most important in its history was on 15 May 1981, the 5th Infantry BDE (SEP) PA was elevated as the 5th Infantry Division pursuant to GO NR 365, GHQ, AFP dated on 11 May 1981. Furthermore, in the AFP TOE NR A7-2 dated on 24 January 1974, the 5th Infantry BDE was able to absorb and readjust accordingly all the subordinate units under its command.
Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM)
Meanwhile, on 29 March 1988, the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) covering Regions 1 & 2 was elevated from a “unified command” to an “area command” covering Northern & Central Luzon and transferred Headquarters from Camp Melchor F Dela Cruz in Echague, Isabela to Camp General Servillano A Aquino in San Miguel, Tarlac. To pave way for this development, then Brigadier General Manuel V Cacanando AFP oversaw the transfer of the Headquarters of the 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army from Camp General Servillano A Aquino to Isabela Province.
The 5th Army Training (Star) Group was activated pursuant to General Orders Number 533, Headquarters Philippine Army dated 12 December 1989 effective 1 January 1990 as an organic unit of 5th Infantry Division Philippine Army its personnel and equipment coming from the 5th Infantry Division Table of Organization and Equipment (TOE) provided for by GHQ, AFP. Ten years after, it was reassigned and absorbed by the Training and Doctrine Command, Philippine Army on 1 April 1999 pursuant to General Orders Number 402, Headquarters Philippine Army dated 22 March 1999.
5th Army Training (Star) Group was formally organized in Camp Melchor F Dela Cruz, Upi, Gamu, Isabela with four (4) officers and eleven (11) enlisted personnel. Later, this group was transferred to Camp Melchor F Dela Cruz (Annex), Soyung, Echague, Isabela on 15 June 1990 to conform with the administrative and training requirements in accomplishing its assigned mission given by Higher Headquarters.
The 5th Army Training (Star) Group conducts Infantry Non-commissioned Officer Basic and Advanced Courses to upgrade the capabilities of soldiers of 5th Infantry Division and other units of the Philippine Army. Today, the 5th Army Training (Star) Group continuously performs its mandate in finding ways to deliver quality training needed by the military personnel.
On 07 November 1994, the headquarters was then relocated to its present location, here at Camp Melchor F Dela Cruz. The camp is named after the valiant commander who once served Northern Luzon forces during the 1970s. Although, the order that officially renames this camp as Camp Melchor F Dela Cruz has yet to be issued.
Camp Melchor F Dela Cruz
Evolution of the Command
- IMA was activated on 6 May 1948 pursuant to Section 1, General Order No I Hqs, National Defense Force dtd 5 May 48 Camp Order as the station.
- ON 1 July 1959. The 3ID was merged with the IMA by virtue of OPLAN ‘COMPACT” The merging brought about the common General Staff for both, although the 3ID remained at Camp Order and IMA in Camp Olivas.
- IMA/3ID was re-designated IMA/1Bde pursuant to GO Nr C.HQ, AFP dtd 16 Oct 63 effective 16 Aug 63.
- Re-designated as IMA effective 10 Oct 66 pursuant to GO Nr 116, GHQ. AFP dtd 24 Oct 66.
- IMA was deactivated giving rise to the creation of the BDE as the tactical component of the 1ID with Camp Aquino as the home station.
- On 16 October 1972. The 5ID (Separate). PA came into being as a major unit of the PA pursuant to Gen Order Nr 153. CiHQ. AFP of even date.
- On 15 May 1981. The 5ID (Separate) as a nucleus was elevated the 5ID pursuant to General Order 365. GHQ, AFP dtd 11 May 81.