|Battle of Zamboanga
Part of: War in Mindanao and Sulu
Fighters of the Mindanao Free Army celebrate a victory over Filipino-Mexican forces in North Lanao
|Republic of Mindanao|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Carlos P. Garcia|
Pedro de Quiros
Voltaire de Peña
| Ahmad Salahuddin
The Battle of Zamboanga (Malay: Pertempuran Zamboanga, Filipino: Laban sa Zamboanga, Spanish: Batalla de Zamboanga) was fought from December 4, 1961 to February 4, 1962 between the Mindanao Free Army, and the Philippine forces, with Mexican aid for control of the Zamboanga Peninsula. Taking place during the War in Mindanao and Sulu, the rejuvinated Mindanao Free Army defeated the joint Filipino and Mexican forces present in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
The mission and intent of the Filipino forces was to capture Ahmad Salahuddin and Karimal Sayid, the two most-wanted of the Filipino forces, with Karimal Sayid as the succeeding Commander-in-Chief of the Mindanao Free Army. The two had been reported to be in Zamboanga City.
The battle was a result of a Filipino incursion from their island fortress in Palawan, as a two-front attack, with an offensive brigade attacking from southeastern Palawan, followed by another attack from Visayas up north. The battle was concurrent with the Third Battle of Jolo, also ending in a Moro victory.
On midnight, December 1, 1961, MFA scout units in Visayas spotted high Filipino military activity in Negros Oriental. Karimal Sayid ordered the scouts to keep a close eye and report all Filipino military activity. Additionally, scouts from Balabac and Bataraza also spotted Filipino military activity in Palawan. The northern defenses of the MFA therefore, prepared themselves for the invasion.
The attacks began midnight on December 4, 1961, with Filipino and Mexican soldiers storming the poorly-defended northeastern coasts of the Zamboanga Peninsula. They overran much of the MFA defenses located there, and despite battling through stubborn MFA resistance, the Filipino and Mexican troops were able to push through and split themselves into two groups, with Army Group Uno to attack the MFA units in northern Mindanao while another Filipino army group simultaneously attacks them from Negros Oriental, thereby choking the northern units of the MFA.
Army Group Dos, would continue the incursion further south into Mindanao, in an attempt to meet the Filipinos in Jolo, and therefore, finally capitulate the Mindanao Free Army.
With the Moro victory in Jolo however, the Filipino plan failed, and backfired. The MFA-defended mountains of northern Mindanao proved to be near-impossible to penetrate and clear. Army Group Dos now found itself getting pincered with the Jolo Batallion, 2nd Maguindanao Division, 5th Lanao Divison and the Marawi City Batallion. Most of the Filipino soldiers fled, and went into hiding, others surrendered. Now with Army Group Dos gone, the MFA were able to finish off the remaining offensive units of Filipino troops from Negros Oriental.
The presence of Mexican soldiers aiding the Filipinos strengthened Moro motivation to fight the Filipino government. Karimal Sayid called the Filipinos "cowards" who "can't fight on their own".