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SAF members are required to undergo the SAF Commando Course (or equivalent training such as Scout Ranger Course, Force Reconnaissance Course, Special Forces Operations Course) to be allowed to wear the SAF Beret. It also serves as the foundation course or requisite for other SAF specialization trainings such as Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Basic Airborne Course (BAC), Urban Counter Revolutionary Warfare Course (SURESHOCK), SCUBA-BUSROC (Basic Under-Water Search and Rescue Operations Course), SAF Seaborne Warfare Course (SSWC) and others.
SAF troopers are assigned anywhere in the country. Training occurs at the unit headquarters at Fort Sto. Domingo with its Air Unit stationed at the PNP Hangar in Pasay City.
The SAF has an official magazine known as "Tagaligtas".
Created on May 12, 1983 by the Philippine Constabulary (PC) as Philippine Constabulary Special Action Force (PCSAF) as per PC General Orders 323. Fidel Ramos and Renato de Villa were the founders of the unit. De Villa directed Rosendo Ferrer and Avelino "Sonny" Razon Jr. to organize a Special Action Force. After which, a training program called the PCSAF Ranger Course, was used to train the 1st generation of SAF troopers, which had a number of 149 troopers. Out of them, 26 were commissioned officers with the others being enlisted personnel from a wide range of PC units such as the PC Brigade, the Long Range Patrol Battalion (LRP), the K-9 Support Company, PC Special Organized Group, the Light Reaction Unit (LRU) of PC METROCOM, the Constabulary Off-Shore Action Command (COSAC) and other PC Units. Later on, they changed the name of the course to SAF Operations Course (SAFOC) then SAF Commando Course (SAFCC).
Initially formed to battle against NPA and MNLF guerillas in the late 1980s and early 1990s, their tasks have been expanded to battle against organized criminal groups, terrorists, guerrillas and common criminals.
During the days of the EDSA Revolution, GEN RAMOS was involved in planning an operation called "Exercise Ligtas Isla" (Exercise Save Island) in case either Imelda Marcos or Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff GEN FABIAN VER would take over ruling from President Ferdinand Marcos who had been ill during the last few days of the Revolution. When Corazon Aquino became president, the SAF was mandated to be on standby due to the number of coup attempts by rogue Philippine soldiers.
On January 29, 1991, President Aquino signed Republic Act 6975 into law, which changed the name of the SAF from PCSAF to PNPSAF as a part of transition of government.
Following recent changes, the SAF will move to a permanent camp at Barangay Pinugay, Baras, Rizal under Proclamation No. 1355 passed in August 2007 from their camp in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.
For the first time, SAF troopers were involved in the Balikatan exercises in 2009 since American and Filipino troops are usually involved.
On July 20, 2016, SAF created NBP Facility Security Provisional Battalion led by PSUPT LEDON MONTE to take over from the Bureau of Corrections the duties to man the New Bilibid Prison particularly in the Maximum Security Camp where the bigtime drug lords and hardened prisoners are in prison. The said Battalion (NBPFSPB) was composed of four original companies; 1st Company led by PCI Carlo Loñosa, 2nd Coy led by PSI Abraham Culili, 3rd Coy led by PSI Jojo Gaspar, 4th Coy led by PSI Jayson Baldos.
In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte gave a directive to add five more Special Action Battalions to the SAF.
SAF's known operations
The Philippine National Police planned 10 operations, including Oplan Exodus which was implemented on January 25, 2015, targeting bomb expert Zulkifli Abdhir also known as Marwan. Oplan Exodus, the last of the operations planned by the PNP was the only operation successful in neutralizing Marwan.
Operation (Oplan) Scope Date of implementation Result
Pitas Parang, Sulu December 2010 Executed
Smartbomb Butig, Lanao del Sur July 2012 Executed
Wolverine Mamasapano, Maguindanao December 2012 Mission aborted
Cyclops Marawi April 2013 Executed
Cyclops 2 Marawi June 2013 Mission aborted
Wolverine 2 Mamasapano, Maguindanao March 2014 Mission aborted
Wolverine 3 Mamasapano, Maguindanao May 2014 Mission aborted
Terminator Mamasapano, Maguindanao November 2014 Mission aborted
Terminator 2 Mamasapano, Maguindanao December 2014 Mission aborted
1986 to 1989 - SAF Conducted anti-coup operations against anti-government rebels from the Philippine military.
Late 1980s to 1990s - First deployed to battle against NPA and MNLF rebels.
May 1987 - Then PCSAF under MAJOR AVELINO RAZON Jr was deployed in Ifugao to conduct operations against the CPP-NPA.
1987 - Two Special Action Companies (SACs) were deployed in Negros Island and conducted successful operations against the NPAs. It caused the surrender of considerable numbers of the NPA operating in Negros Oriental. The 2SAC and 4SAC were led by 1LT NOLI TALINO (2SAC) and (4SAC)1LT JOSEPHUS ANGAN and 1LT RAMON MATEO DIZON, who later became Brig General and PSG Commander under President Benigno Aquino III.
1992 - Newly created 4SAB under PSUPT ABRAHAM GARCILLANO and PCINSP EMMANUEL CAEG was placed attached with the Western Police District to assist in neutralizing criminal elements involved in robbery/hold-up of banks and pawnshops, including armored cars. 1SAC led by PINSP ADRIATICO DEL CAMAT and PINSP BERNARD BANAC was deployed in Ermita, Manila while the 2SAC led by PINSP CONSTANCIO ITEM and PINSP BERNARDO ROSARIO was deployed in Sampaloc, Manila.
1993 - The 3SAB was deployed in Basilan to go after notorious bandits and KFR groups.
March 15, 1993 - A team of SAF Troopers led by PINSP CLEMENTE VARGAS and PINSP BERNARDO ROSARIO discovered NPA killing fields in Brgy Kalabigan Hills, Marag Valley, Luna, Kalinga-Apayao
1994 - The 1SAB led by PCINSO AGER ONTOG, 2SAB led by PCINSP JAIME CALUNGSOD and Special Operations Battalion (SOB) Deep Reconnaissance Company (DEER) led by PINSP BERNARD BANAC and PINSP RODOLFO CASTIL Jr replaced the 3SAB under PCINSP BAI LAYON in Basilan with primary function to restore peace and order and conduct operation against Abu Sayyaf.
1994 - PSUPT SAMSON TUCAY, Commander, SOB sent the Light Armor Coy "Bubuyog" led by PINSP BERNARDO ROSARIO and PINSP RAMIL MONTILLA to Zamboanga and Basilan to provide fire support to SAF units under the Mindanao Police Task Force (MPTF).
1994 - PINSP JOSEPH PLAZA and PINSP PARENA were among those who headed the SAF Training Group in Basilan to conduct SAFOC.
October 1994 - Two teams from 2SAB led by PINSP CESAR PASIWEN and PINSP CRIS MENDOZA neutralized Commander "Arabain" in Tuburan, Basilan.
October 1994 - The 1SAB was deployed in Region 12 with its Battalion HQ at Sultan Kudarat.
October 1994 - The 1SAC, 1SAB under PINSP WILLY CAYAT backed by 2SAC under PINSO TELLIO NGIS-O successfully took over the Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation project from Muslim Rebel Group led by Commander "Damskie". PINSP VICTOR AREVALO and other PNCOs were wounded during the operation. A bomb technician expert who was recovering/disarming anti-personnel mines was killed by a sniper fire.
December 1994 - The 2SAC led by PINSP NGIS-O with Junior Officers PInsp Argel Ancheta, PInsp Jech Abecia, PInsp Chito Bersaluna, PInsp Kirby John Kraft, PInsp Ricardo Javier, PInsp Jacob Macabali, PInsp James Cristobal Coy Ex-O and PInsp Joel Limson, Chief of police of Carmen MPS in Cotabato with support from 3SAC, successfully liberated the barangays of Tupig and Tonganon, Carmen, North Cotabato from the control of Muslim Rebel Group that occupied the said barangays after they were displaced from Malitubog-Maridagao Dam. PO2s Ycoy and Pellobello who were part of the Blocking Force were killed in the said operations. The 2SAC, 1SAB was awarded as Best Operating Company by the Regional Police Office 12.
June 1995 - Composite personnel from 1SAB, 2SAB, 3SAB,4SAB, SOB DEER Coy led by PINSP BERNARD BANAC and PINSP RODOLFO CASTIL Jr and SOB "Bubuyog" LAC led by PINSP BERNARDO ROSARIO and PINSP RAMIL MONTILLA were deployed in Negros Island as primary component of Negros Island Police Task Force.
September 1996 - The 3SAB under PCINSP ROMAN FELIX was deployed in SBMA-Bataan area to conduct clearing operations as part of security preparation for APEC. 31SAC was attached to 24th IB, Philippine Army under Maj Emmanuel Bautista to conduct joint combat raids in the town of Balanga, Orion, Bataan and nearby area. It was transferred to Mauban, Quezon to support the local police.
March 1995 - The RECON COY under PSINSP RONALD SANTOS was deployed to Nueva Ecija for election duty and was responsible for many accomplishments to name a few, arrest of Mayor Joson and his 13 bodyguards who were responsible in the killing of Mayor Perez, a political opponent of the Josons.
1997 - The RECON COY under PSINSP WILLY CAYAT was deployed in Davao Del Norte at Mount Diwalwal to restore peace and order and conduct police operation against use of explosive components by miners in their operation of mining gold in Mount Diwalwal.
1997 to 2000 - The 1SAB under PSUPT BENJAMIN MAGALONG figured in numerous special operations such as arrests and raids on high-profile lawless elements and hostage rescue operations in cooperation with Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF). Its Counter-Terrorist Unit also figured in series of raids against NPA that resulted in the neutralization of some of NPA leaders.
August 4, 2000 two teams of SAF LRU of PAOCTF Luzon led by PSINSP Edgar Alan Okubo and PSINSP Felix Servita Jr engaged eight fully armed robbers of the Danny Flores Gang after a hot pursuit operation in Alabang, Muntinlupa resulting in the killing of four suspects and arrest of four others and the recovery of six high powered long firearms and five handguns. One SAF trooper was KIA.
August 25, 2003 - SAF units were deployed in Makati after heavily armed bank robbers attacked the headquarters of Citibank Philippines.
September 23, 2003 - A joint raid by the SAF, CIDG, Intelligence Group (IG), Traffic Management Group, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), Army Intelligence and Security Group (AISG) and Marines assaulted Palar Village in Taguig, netting a bank robbery gang made up of ex-AFP soldiers believed to be responsible for the Citibank Philippines robbery.
September 28, 2003 - SAF provided Quick Reacion Forces for protection of US President George Bush during his visit to the Philippines.
March 10, 2004 - SAF teams engaged NPA guerrillas in a gunfight alongside soldiers of the Philippine Army's 24th Infantry Battalion at Sitio Caarosipan, Barangay Apostol, San Felipe town. Eight NPA guerillas were confirmed killed. A SAF officer was KIA while three were WIA.
March 18, 2004 - The SAF Commando Cl-27 composed the 24SAC, 2SAB who were deployed in North Cotabato (Buliok Complex) as requested by Governor Emmanuel Pinol to serve as a peace negotiator between the government and the MILF rebels. They also served as security during the 2004 presidential election in the province.
May 31, 2004 - SAF protected ballot boxes used in the May 10, 2004 presidential elections.
June 11, 2004 - SAF teams were deployed in a resettlement area in Taguig, Rizal province after reports of snipers were made to the PNP.
June 20, 2004 - A SAF officer was killed when SAF and the Zambalez Polie Provincial Mobile Group engaged the NPA in a firefight in Zambales province.
July 17, 2004 - A group of phone hackers, consisting of Filipino and foreign nationals, were arrested in a raid conducted by the SAF.
July 28, 2004 - The SAF provided security for former Abu Sayyaf hostage Gracia Burnham who testified against said terrorist group in a local courthouse.
September 27, 2004 - SAF teams were deployed in the Cordillera to disarm various Partisan Armed Group (PAG) gunmen in the employ of several local prominent politicians.
January 30, 2005 - SAF arrested opvarious kidnap-for-ransom gang members in Batangas City
February 10, 2005 - SAF arrested members of a bank robbery gang during a raid in San Fernando City, Pampanga.
March 15, 2005 - SAF and NCRPO SWAT teams led by PSSUPT BENJAMIN MAGALONG raided the Metro Manila Rehabilitation Center of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City after it was captured by Abu Sayyaf inmates. Among those killed were Alhamser Limbong alias Commander Kosovo, Ghalib Andang alias Commander Robot; Nadzmi Sabdullah alias Commander Global; and Sadit Abdul Ganit Husim alias Commander Lando. For a short time, various human rights group in the Philippines and abroad have accused the SAF of police brutality and were convinced that the PNP really wanted to kill them at the start of the crisis. PNP officials have denied all charges. Various foreign groups abroad (possibly other special ops units) have praised the SAF for bringing a quick end to the 30-hour crisis. This was one of the SAF's publicly known operations to be on the headlines on newspapers and on TV news reports worldwide, especially on CNN. PO1 Abel Arreola was the only SAF operative killed during the attack.
February 17, 2006 - SAF units were deployed in Southern Leyte as part of a humanitarian contingent of the PNP.
February 21, 2006 - SAF units patrol grounds of Malacañan Palace after an explosion occurred in the grounds of the Palace said to be from a trash can.
February 24, 2006 - SAF units were on red alert after coup attempt was discovered.
October 9, 2006 - SAF units were deployed in Negros Occidental after New People's Army rebels attacked the Silay City airport.
January 11 to 14, 2007 - SAF units were deployed in Metro Cebu during the 12th ASEAN Summit.
October 26, 2007 - PSINSP FERMAR ORDIZ, a PNP SAF operative, was shot and killed by robbers in Cubao, Quezon City during a shootout despite wearing a kevlar vest.
September 26 to 30, 2009 - Heroic Acts of Special Action Force 61ST Calamity Assistance Rescue Recovery Relief and Emergency (CARE) Company of Force Support Battalion (FSB) under PCINSP BYRON TABERNILLA. On that unsought day, the SAF Troopers of CARE manifested through actions their battle cry and mission statement "MAGHANAP-SUMAGIP-MAGLIGTAS". A huge number of people hit by Typhoon Ketsana, locally named as "ONDOY", were rescued around Metropolitan Manila, specially in Marikina City. Among those rescued in Provident Village in Marikina were actress Christine Reyes and actor Richard Gutierrez.
April 20, 2010 - Four SAF Troopers were KIA during an ambush by the NPA in Antipolo, Rizal while five other troopers were WIA.
May 27, 2013 - Eight SAF Troopers were killed while seven other troopers were wounded during an ambush perpetrated by the NPA in Allacapan, Cagayan.
September 9 to 28, 2013 - Zamboanga Siege/Attack or Zamboanga City Crisis - the 55SAC of 5SAB and 84SAC of RDB were among the very first government troops to respond to the attack made by elements of a Rouge MNLF faction. They prevented the attackers in going further to the heart of the city. Three SAF Troopers, PO2 Christopher Hernaez of 55SAC and PO2s Lawin Salisa and Enrique Afable of 84SAC, were KIA. A total of 25 government troopers were KIA while 183 members of said faction were KIA and 292 others were captured.
January 25, 2015 - 44 members of the PNP-Special Action Force were killed by an estimated 800 members of Local Terrorist Groups, Bangsa Moro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Moro Islamic Liberation Front and local criminal groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, while 12 other troopers were WIA. Among the 44 who were KIA, 35 were from 55SAC, 5SAB while nine from 84SAC, RDB. It was believed that an estimate of more than 200 LTGs were KIA due to the close proximity of the firefight although only 17 was reported. All of the 44 SAF Troopers were awarded the Medal for Valor.
May 23, 2017 to October 23, 2017 - a Composite SAF Contingent was sent to augment government forces to clear Marawi City from the clutches of an estimated 1,000 members of ISIS inspired and combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf Local Terrorist Groups (LTGs). For five months, the contingent directly confronted the enemy at the Main Battle Area where they fought side by side with the elite forces of the AFP in neutralizing said LTGs. They provided Assault Teams, Sniper Teams, Weapons Teams, LAC Teams and Seaborne Teams. The contingent was led by PSUPT REX ARVIN MALIMBAN. It was composed of personnel mostly from the CTU Companies of the line battalions such as 83SAC (CRG) and 84SAC (Seaborne) of the RDB led by PSUPT LAMBERT SUERTE, 103SAC and 15SAC of 1SAB led by PSUPT JACK ANGOG, 25SAC of 2SAB led by PSUPT MARIO MAYAMES Jr, composite company mostly from 55SAC of 5SAB led by PSUPT LEDON MONTE. 4SAB and SAFTB (Commando Cl-77 as test mission led by PINSP MICKGLO MARINAS) also sent personnel. Four were KIA: PO3 Alexis Mangaldan (5SAB), PO1 Moises Kimayong (SAFTB), PO2 Alexis Laurente (1SAB) and PO2 Daniel Tegwa (SAFTB). For their gallantry in action, PO1 Kimayong earned the Medal for Valor while members of the contingent, except those with the rank of PSUPT, were meritoriously promoted by then CPNP PDG RONALDO DELA ROSA upon their return to the SAF Hqs on October 23, 2017. A total of 168 government troopers were KIA while 974 LTGs were KIA and 12 captured. Thousands of trapped civilians were rescued.
As of 2020, the SAF's command structure is consist of the following:
Force Support Battalion
Rapid Deployment Battalion
Twelve Special Action Force Battalions: 1SAB, 2SAB, 3SAB, 4SAB, 5SAB, 6SAB, 7SAB, 9SAB, 10SAB, 11SAB, 12SAB, 14SAB
Former standard-issue pistol of the Philippine National Police, sourced from US EDA and new Philippine-made units. US-made variants mostly handed-over from the Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police.
Current standard issue rifle, either made by Colt USA or Elisco Tool (Elitool) Philippines. 30,000 units were handed-over to the PNP on loan from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, several are with the PNP-SAF.
Similar to the M4 carbine, developed by FERFRANS using patented components and US-made parts, including a reduced rate of fire and use of a 1:9 twist barrel instead of the usual 1:7 twist on standard M4. SOAR 11 uses an 11.5" barrel, while SOAR 14 uses a 14.5" barrel. SOAR-P is a piston version of the rifle.
Standard squad automatic weapon. 320 units of Negev 5.56mm machine guns and 231 units of Negev NG-7 7.62mm machine guns were delivered in early 2018, many were allocated for SAF. 97 more Negev NG-7 7.62mm machine guns were delivered in early 2018, most were provided to the PNP-SAF.