On 25 June 1950, the Korean People’s Army (KPA) of North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) attacked South Korea (Republic of Korea). On the same day, the United Nations Security Council Resolution condemned the attack as a breach of peace and insisted on the DPRK to “withdraw forthwith north of the 38th parallel.” On 27 June 1950, the UN Security Council Resolution called upon member nations to assist in repelling the North Koreans. These two resolutions provided the legal basis for UN intervention in the Korean War.
On 07 September 1950, the Philippine government responded with the approval by the Philippine Congress of Republic Act 573, the Philippine Military Aid to the UN Act, making possible the sending of a Filipino expeditionary force to South Korea to help repel the communist aggression. Then President Elpidio Quirino stated that the Philippines was sending the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) in fulfillment of the country’s obligation as a co-signer of the United Nations Charter.
The Philippines sent five Battalion Combat Teams (BCTs) known as the PEFTOK with a total number of 7,420 personnel.
On 19 September 1950, the Philippines’ 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) with about 1,400 men landed at the port of Busan as the first of the five BCTs that would serve under the United Nations Command (UNC) in Korea for the period 1950-1955. It was the eighth UNC ground combat unit to enter the Korean War.
A total of 7,420 Filipino officers and men served in Korea. They suffered 116 killed in action, 299 wounded and 57 missing (41 repatriated during POW exchanges). The last of the Philippine troops left Korea on 13 May 1955.
PEFTOK consisted of these units:
10th BATTALION COMBAT TEAM (MOTORIZED)
September 1950 to September 1951
Motto: Steady On
The Philippines’ only armored battalion, the 10th BCT (Motorized) with a complement of 64 officers and 1,303 enlisted men landed at Busan after a four-day voyage from the Philippines.
20th BATTALION COMBAT TEAM (Leaders)
April 1951 to April 1952
Motto: We Lead
19th BATTALION COMBAT TEAM (BLOODHOUND)
April 1952 to March 1953
A battle-hardened unit that distinguished itself in the anti-Huk campaign, the first contingent of the 19th BCT landed in Korea in late April 1952 with the last contingent rotating to Korea two months later. The 19th BCT was the first PEFTOK battalion awarded with the South Korean Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation. It also received a Battle Citation from the US X Corps.
14th BATTALION COMBAT TEAM (AVENGERS)
March 1953 to April 1954
Battle Motto: Crush ‘Em!
Named the Avengers by then Secretary of National Defense Ramon Magsaysay (later President of the Philippines) because of its splendid record in the anti-Huk campaign, the 14th BCT stepped onto Korea soil on 26 March 1953. For its efforts, the 14th BCT received the South Korean Presidential Unit Citation in December 1953 and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation upon its return home in March 1954.
2nd BATTALION COMBAT TEAM (BLACK LIONS)
April 1954 to May 1955
The 2nd BCT was activated in July 1946 making it one of the most experienced combat units in the anti-Huk campaign. It gained its vast tactical experience in eight years of combat against the Huks in Central and Southern Luzon.
The PEFTOK Veterans Association, Inc. remains active in promoting awareness about Philippine participation during the Korean War. Former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos was 2nd lieutenant when he was deployed to Korea. Former ambassadors to South Korea Col. Nicanor Jimenez and Gen. Ernesto Gidaya were also Korean War veterans.
The Philippines is one of 16 UN member states whose troops saw combat in the Korean War. Four more UN member states (Denmark, India, Norway and Sweden) provided medical and humanitarian aid during the war. Italy, although not a UN member then, provided a hospital.
The 16 members of the UN command were Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
On 7 July 1950, France and Great Britain sponsored the UN Security Council Resolution which adopted formal measures outlining organization and management procedures for UN troops in Korea. This new United Nations Command (UNC), directed by a US-appointed commander was authorized to use the UN flag in military operations. The UNC commander had control over the military forces of the contributing nations with regard to military operational decisions and movements, but these national forces remained under their own discipline and regulations and were allowed to maintain contact with their own government regarding procedural questions. The establishment of the UNC Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan on 24 July 1950 marked the first time in history that the free nations of the world united under the UN flag to repel aggression.
A Liaison Staff was established under the Chief of Staff, UNC located in Tokyo. This was composed of Liaison Officers and their staff from the 16 UNC member-nations that were providing combat support to the UNC. They were charged with the following duties:
- Formulating policies and procedures for the integration of their nations’ military contingents into the UNC force structure.
- Maintaining constant liaison among other Liaison Groups, their field forces and the Commander-in-Chief, UNC.
On 27 July 1953, the armed hostilities ended. An Armistice Agreement was signed by the Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command; Supreme Commander, Korean People’s Army; and Commander, Chinese People’s Volunteers, at Panmunjom Village which provided for the end of the fighting and eventual political settlement of the war. The shooting ended, but the troops remained, each side pulling back 2,000 meters from the last line of military contact to insure peace, to watch the Demilitarized Zone, and to guard against any resumption of hostilities.
Current responsibilities of the UNC Liaison Groups have been expanded from those of the original UNC Liaison Staff to encompass Military Armistice Commission (MAC) duties.
With the signing of the Armistice Agreement (AA), the mission of the UNC shifted from that of defeating aggression to one of maintaining the provisions of the Armistice Agreement. In order to accomplish this mission, the UNC Headquarters was relocated from Tokyo to Seoul in 01 July 1957. This move not only provided a more viable site for the UNC to better accomplish its mission, it also demonstrated to the north that the UNC was steadfast in its determination to meet any new threat. A permanent political settlement has not yet been reached, and the uneasy armed truce of 1953 continues.
UNC Liaison Groups were established during the Korean War to formulate policies for the integration of their nations’ contingents into the UNC and to maintain liaison between their governments, field forces, and the Commander, UNC (formerly, Commander-in-Chief, UNC or CINCUNC). Of the 16 countries that contributed combat troops to assist South Korea, 12 nations are currently accredited as UNC member nations, with the exception of Belgium, Ethiopia, Luxembourg, and South Africa. Two countries that provided medical supports are also accredited, Denmark and Norway.
The Chiefs of each Liaison Group (colonel or equivalent and above) accredited to the UNC serve as rotating members of the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) for a period of six months. They are also permanent members of the UNCMAC Advisory Group. In the latter capacity, they participate with the UNCMAC Senior Member in planning, coordinating, and formulating policies regarding UNCMAC issues, as well as preparing for and attending meetings with the KPA at Panmunjom as visible evidence of the multinational coalition comprising the UNC.
UNC Liaison Group members also act as UNCMAC Special Investigative Team (SIT) members, monitoring armistice compliance and investigating AA violation charges for the Commander, UNC. They also attend the weekly UNCMAC Liaison Officers’ (LNO) meeting, as well as the monthly Senior Members’ Meeting. They also go on inspections of the different UN Observation Posts (OPs) and Guard Posts (GPs) along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) together with UNCMAC Operations personnel and representatives from the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC). Usually, eight GPs/OPs are inspected every month.
To this day, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea and the Republic of Korea (ROK) or South Korea remain technically at war. The Armistice Agreement (AA) that was signed in 1953 to stop hostilities in Korea has not been changed to a peace agreement. Hence the armed forces of both countries are still in the belligerency status that explains the continued presence of the UNC and the US forces in Korea.
Historically, with the absence of documents indicating otherwise, the Philippine government has not withdrawn its support from the UNC. It continues its stand of securing South Korea from possible aggression from the north and at the same time working for security in the peninsula with the hope of possible reconciliation of the two Koreas.
Republic Act 573, the Philippine Military Aid to the United Nations Act, signed on 07 September 1950 that authorized the sending of the PEFTOK to Korea, and the subsequent detail or assignment of Philippine personnel to UNC Liaison Staff/Group in Tokyo, Japan, still remains as the legal basis for the Philippine Contingent’s continued participation and representation in the UNC today. Currently, personnel of the Office of the Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attache (OPhilDAFA) which was established in 1957 at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, also serve as the Philippine Liaison Group to the UNC here in Korea.
The Philippines started to send five Honor Guards in 1971 but this number was reduced to three in 2003. At present, only the Philippines and Thailand maintain small contingents of troops in Korea assigned to the UNC Honor Guard Company which provides security and ceremonial support to the Commander, UNC. Occasionally, Canada also sends some troops to the Honor Guard Company.
In the absence of the long-sought peace agreement, and since the signing of the Armistice Agreement on 27 July 1953 up to the present, nothing has essentially changed ? North and South Korea remain technically at war. The troops from both sides of the MDL have remained vigilant and alert against any possible attack from either side.
The relief of 50 people on the front of the foundation represents the desperate struggle of the Korean people to overcome the challenges of war and win freedom and peace. Meanwhile, the relief on the front of the pillar depicts the culture of the Philippines. The 17-meter central pillar and the wide, 4.5 meter-high foundation give the monument a pleasing sense of stability.
On 19 September 1950, shortly after the Korean War began with a surprise attack on the South by the communist North, the Philippines dispatched its soldiers as part of the United Nations forces. The Philippine contingent fought courageously and successfully in the Battles of Waegwan, Gimcheon, Daegu, Cheolwon and the Imjin-gang River.