Ernesto S. Mata

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Ernesto S. Mata
Born November 7, 1915
Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippine Islands
Died March 7, 2012(2012-03-07) (aged 96)
Quezon City, Philippines
Buried Libingan ng mga Bayani[1]
Allegiance Philippines Philippines
Service/branch Philippine Army
Years of service 1937-1967
Rank General
Battles/wars World War II
Hukbalahap campaign
Awards Distinguished Service Star
Military Commendation Medal
Philippine Legion of Honor
Legion of Merit
Crosses of Military Merit

Ernesto S. Mata (November 7, 1915 – March 7, 2012) was a Filipino General and the 15th Secretary of National Defense of the Republic of the Philippines, serving in that capacity from 21 January 1967 to 3 February 1970.[2][3]

Mata was also a former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff, the only retired officer to be recalled to active duty to occupy this position.[4] In February 2012, just before his death, he was acknowledged to be the only known living graduate of the Philippine Constabulary Academy,[4] which was later renamed the Philippine Military Academy in 1935.


Early life[edit]

Mata was born on 7 November 1915 in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. In 1933 he graduated from Ilocos Norte High School and took further education at the University of the Philippines Junior College at Vigan, Ilocos Sur. He passed the Philippine Constabulary Academy entrance exam a year later, graduating in March 1937. That same year, he became a Third Lieutenant and was assigned with the 23rd Philippine Constabulary Company in Iloilo City.[2]

World War II[edit]

During World War II he fought in the United States Army Forces in the Far East and was a commanding officer for the 3rd Battalion, 74th Regiment, and 71st Division in Negros. From 1942 to 1945, instead of surrendering to the Imperial Japanese Army, he led the 72nd Division of the 7th Military District on the island of Negros and assisted in the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese invaders. He served as aide-de-camp for President Sergio Osmeña. He later completed the Infantry Officer's Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia and the Command and General Staff College course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.[2]

Post War era[edit]

When World War II ended, Mata began studying at the Institute of Foreign Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs. He attended the Harvard Advance Management Programs in Baguio City in 1958. On June 16 of that year, he became Military Assistant to Jesus Vargas who then was Defense Secretary. Two years later, he took a course in Modern Weapon Familiarization at Fort Bliss, Texas and the same year made tours of various armies of Greece, Italy, and Spain.[2]


In March 1962, he became commander of the 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and on 24 June 1963, became their commanding general. He was promoted during President Diosdado Macapagal's term to Brigadier General a month later. He retired on June 1964 but was recalled back to duty on 22 January 1966 by President Ferdinand Marcos and was appointed as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He also became Southeast Asia Treaty Organization Military advisor and when he finally retired from the military on 21 January 1967, he was appointed as Secretary of National Defense. He served without receiving a salary, relying only on his pension as a retired general. He was able to collect his accumulated salary as Defense Secretary in September 1972, more than two years after he relinquished the post.[2]


  1. ^ Reyes, Victor (March 7, 2012). "Mata, ex-AFP chief; 96". Malaya. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ernesto S. Mata". Department of National Defense. Archived from the original on May 19, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ Pelayo, Bert (March 9, 2012). "In memoriam: envoy, a general, a newsman". Filipino Reporter. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Farolan, Ramon (March 19, 2012). "Son of a carpenter". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved July 31, 2013.