Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City: Camp Rafael C. Cramé and the History of the Philippine National Police

Right across Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA for short), from Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, is the general headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Camp Rafael Cramé. The police HQ was named after the first Filipino Chief of the Philippine Constabulary, Brigadier General Rafael Cramé y Pérez de Tagle (1863-1927); a Spanish mestizo, who graduated from the Ateneo de Manila, before taking his military studies at the Academia General Militar (then called the Academia De Infanteria), in the Alcázar de Toledo, Spain. Cramé first worked as a government official, then fought against the Katipunan as a lieutenant in the Spanish forces. In 1902, Cramé joined the Philippine Constabulary and quickly rose in its ranks. General Cramé was appointed as the Chief of the Philippine Constabulary 1917, and served as its head until his death in 1927. During his service, Cramé was honored with the Medal of Valor, in 1921.

02 1933-1935 Frank Murphy with group at the Fort William McKinley Club
1933-1935 Frank Murphy with group at the Fort William McKinley Club

However, the naming police HQ after Cramé came only in 1938. Before this, the area covered by Camp Cramé and Camp Aguinaldo (renamed in 1965), were part of the American period military base of Camp Murphy, which was in turn named after the former American Governor-General (1933-1935) and High Commissioner (1935-1936) to the Philippines, William Francis Brennan Murphy (1890-1949); who would also serve as the Mayor of Detroit, the Governor of Michigan, the Attorney General, and a Supreme Court justice in America. Camp Murphy was established as part of the 1935 National Defense Act of the new Philippine Commonwealth government, which sought to develop a military force for the Philippines for its eventual independence in 1946.

03 1943 Philippine Constabulary, swear allegiance to the US Flag
1943 Philippine Constabulary, swear allegiance to the US Flag

At first Camp Murphy was built first as the base for the Philippine Constabulary General Service Battalion. However, with the start of the construction of the North–South Circumferential Road (now called EDSA) in 1938, which bisected the military camp, the eastern camp was renamed Camp Cramé for the Philippine Constabulary (PC), and the western camp remain as Camp Murphy to house the newly formed Philippine Army. The North–South Circumferential Road not only linked the northern Municipality of Caloocan and the southern Jesuit owned Hacienda San Pedro de Macati (now Makati City); but the new road would also connect key military facilities, such as the US Navy Transmitting Corps compound in the Diliman Estates (now Misamis Street), the Philippine Army’s Camp Murphy, the Zablan Airfield of the Philippine Constabulary Air Corps (PCAC), the PC’s Camp Cramé, the Manila International Air Terminal (aka the Nielson Airport, completed in 1937) also in Makati, and United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) infantry base and headquarters Fort McKinley (named after the US Pres. William Allison McKinley Jr., 1843-1901, and now the Bonifacio Global City) in the Municipality of Taguig.

The Philippine Constabulary was first established in 1901, as a national gendarmerie unit, or military law enforcement unit, by the American colonial government.  First commended by Captain Henry Tureman Allen (1859-1930, retires as a major general), the PC had its first headquarters at the Cuartel de Santa Lucia (originally the Artilleria de Montaña, constructed 1781) in Intramuros Manila. However, the barracks (cuartel) was later used as the Philippine Constabulary Officer’s School, in 1905; which would eventually become the Philippine Military Academy.

Before the Philippine Constabulary was formed, the policing of the different cities and municipalities were done by the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) of the Spanish colonial government of the Philippines, while military affairs were conducted by the Spanish Royal Army. Both the Guardia Civil and army had Indio (native) lower rank officers, as well as conscripts from the general indio populace. When the Philippine Constabulary was first organized, it was called the Insular Constabulary, before being renamed as the Philippine Constabulary in the next year. Aside from policing duties, the PC were used in quelling “insurrections” against the American colonial government, from the Katipuneros of President Emilio Famy Aguinaldo (1869-1964) during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), to the continued struggles of General Macario de León Sakay (1878-1907), and the Moro Rebellions (1899-1913) of Mindanao. The PC’s success in quelling these rebellions led to their motto: “Always outnumbered, never outfought!”

Although the Philippine Constabulary was a military law enforcement unit, civilian police forces were organized by the city and municipal governments, during the American occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946). One of the first local police departments was the Metropolitan Police Force (now the Manila Police District) of Manila, also in 1901. With the formal separation of the Philippine Constabulary and the Philippine Army in 1938, the PC often had conflicts in jurisdiction of law enforcement with local police forces. This was later addressed in 1966, with the founding of the National Police Commission (Napolcom), which sought to coordinate all police departments, as the mayors turned over their control to the commission. In the next year of 1967, the Philippine Constabulary Metropolitan Command (MetroCom) was organized to supplement the police forces of Metro Manila, to address the growing crime and civil unrest in the metropolitan area. And in 1975, the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP) was created, to further unify all police forces under one command.

07 1977 Philippine National Police Academy, Silang, Cavite
1977 Philippine National Police Academy, Silang, Cavite

In 1977, the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) was founded as the premier training institute for officers of the Philippine Integrated National Police (now the Philippine National Police), the Philippine Constabulary Office of Jail Management and Penology (now the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology or BJMP), and the Constabulary Fire Protection Bureau (now the Bureau of Fire Protection  or BFP). As a distinctly separate educational institute from the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City, the PNPA first started operations in Fort Bonifacio (formerly Fort McKinley) in Makati City; before moving operations to Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba, Laguna, then to its permanent home at Camp General Mariano N. Castañeda, in Silang, Cavite in 1994.

08 2017 PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, PNP General Headquarters, Camp Crame
2017 PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, PNP General Headquarters, Camp Crame (photo c/o the PNP)

And in 1990, the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police and formally merged as a single unit as the Philippine National Police (PNP), with its general headquarters in Camp Cramé. The seal of the PNP is in the shape of a headhunting shield of the Cordillera ethnic groups, which was the symbol of the Philippine Constabulary, and a symbol of protection. Representing courage is the center image of the silhouette of the historical warrior chieftain, Lapu-Lapu (1491-1542), who was the first Filipino hero to fight against a foreign force, specifically the Portuguese conquistador, Fernão de Magalhães (Ferdinand Magellan, 1480-1521). Below the silhouette is PNP philosophy of “Service, Honor and Justice”; which is followed by the laurel leaves of honor, with 14 leaves that signify the 14 regional commands of the PNP. The rest of the symbols of the colors of blue and red, the sun, the three stars representing the three major island groups of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are all symbols of the Philippine Flag. On the PNP Badge, there is a Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) above the seal, to symbolize ferocity.

09 PNP Fountain, PNP Museum
PNP Fountain, PNP Museum

Aside from the police precincts and regional commands, the current operational units of the PNP are the Aviation Security Group (AVSEGROUP), the Special Action Force (SAF), the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the Maritime Group (MG), the Intelligence Group (IG), the Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG), the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG), the Police-Community Relations Group (PCRG), the Highway Patrol Group (HPG), the Civil Security Group (CSG), the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG), and the Internal Affairs Service (IAS).

10 PNP National Headquarters, Camp Crame
PNP National Headquarters, Camp Crame

Since its construction in 1935, the PNP’s Camp Cramé has been in constant development to address the needs of the police forces, as well as those of the populace. Since the 2000s renovation of the 1960s National Headquarters more new buildings have been constructed; such as the Chief Executive Senior Police Officer (CESPO) Building and Swimming Pool, PTCFOR Building for obtaining the License to Own and Possess Firearms & Permit To Carry Firearms Outside Residence, the PNP Computer Service Building with Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO), the Civil Security Group Building, the Center for Law Enforcement Studies (CLES) Building, and the PNP General Hospital. Buildings currently under construction, as of the writing of this article, are the the Internal Affairs Service Office, the PNP multi-level Carpark Building, and the PNP Multi-Purpose Building.

With past issues of policemen gaining too much weight, the PNP Sports Center and PNP Transformation Oval were constructed in 2010, to keep the PNP personnel in shape. The PNP Transformation Oval also served as the parade grounds and helipad for the Philippine National Police.

In 1950, the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines was established as the Diocese of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Coast Guard, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the Bureau of Jail Management & Penology (BJMP), and Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC). The Saint Joseph Chapel and the St. John Chapel PNP Mortuary first became the representatives of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, in Camp Cramé. And with the establishment of the PNP Chaplain Service in 1992, to address the needs of PNP personnel of other faiths, other that Catholicism, the PNP Multi-Faith Chapel and the Salaam Police Center were built.

To fulfill the educational needs of the families of the police, who had settled in the residential areas around the camp, the Camp Crame Elementary School and Camp Crame High School were both established in 1970.

To celebrate the rich history of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police, the PNP Museum was opened in 1974. In 2006, the Bantayog ng mga Bayaning Tagapamayapa (Memorial to the Heroes of Peacekeeping) was erected, with various decommissioned weapons and vehicles used by the police, since the 1930s to the 1990s. Then in 2009, the PNP Museum’s Hall of the Chiefs was added, with memorabilia from past Chiefs of the Philippine Constabulary and Philippine National Police, as well as some portraits. And in 2011, the PNP Museum was renovated and included Medal of Valor Awardees Hall, a photographic history of the PNP, and various artifacts throughout the years.

14 1935 Camp Murphy - Camp Rafael C. Cramé
1935 Camp Murphy – Camp Rafael C. Cramé

The seven main roads in Camp Cramé are christened after distinguished individuals of the Philippine Constabulary. Delgado Street is named after Lieutenant General Martín Teófilo Bermejo Delgado (1858-1918), and Katipunan general who took the town of Iloilo from General Diego de los Ríos y Nicolau (1850-1911) on December 1898, fought during the Philippine American War, and served as the first Governor of Iloilo province. Delos Reyes Street is named after Major General José J. delos Reyes (1874-1940), who served as a Katipunero under General Gregorio Hilario Sempio del Pilar (1875-1899), as Lieutenant Colonel and Assistant Chief of the Constabulary in 1918, as Major General and Provost Marshall of the Constabulary Division, as Commander of the Philippine Constabulary from 1936-1938, and the 1st AFP Chief of Staff in 1936. Santos Street is named after Major General Paulino Torres Santos (1890-1945), the 1st recipient of the Philippine Medal of Valor for his heroism as a lieutenant during the Bayang Cota campaign in 1917, and would later serve as the 1st Commanding General of the Philippine Army in 1936 and AFP Chief of Staff from 1936-1938. Castañeda Street is named after Major General Mariano N. Castañeda Sr. (1892–1970), a World War II veteran and Bataan Death March survivor who served as the PC National Commander from 1946-1948 and AFP Chief of Staff from 1948-1951, and is another Medal of Valor recipient for saving President Manuel Acuña Roxas (1892-1948) from an assassination attempt in 1947. De Leon Street was named after Brigadier General Pacifico Lopez de Leon, who served as the Commander of Civil Relations Service (CRS) of the AFP from 1983-1985, and Director-General of the Lacuna Lake development Authority (LLDA). Lagman Street is named after Colonel Ferdinand Lagman, to distinguished himself as the head of the Nueva Ecija Constabulary Command, by negotiating the surrender of several rebel units during the 1989 Coup d’Etat against the Aquino government. Alagar Street is named after 1st Lieutenant Vicente Garcia Alagar (1898-1932), who distinguished himself and died during operations in Panamao, Sulo; and the Region 10 Headquarters Camp Vicente Alagar, in Cagayan de Oro City is named after him. And finally, Alfabeto Street is named after 1st Lieutenant Ray Anthony Alfabeto; who as the son of the Zamboanga City PC Regional Command 9, Brigadier General Edgardo Alfabeto, grew up in Camp Cramé, and had the street renamed after the young Alfabeto was killed during operations against the Communist NPA (New People’s Army) in Abra.

15 2006 Bantayog ng mga Bayaning Tagapamayapa
2006 Bantayog ng mga Bayaning Tagapamayapa

With the long history of the Philippine Constabulary and Philippine National Police, we will explore these further in the next article, with a quick tour of the PNP Museum and the PNP Hall of Chiefs.

09 Camp Crame

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