Honoring the best and the brightest Peemayers

February 19, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 332 views

Alfred DalizonHAVING been accustomed to their way of life, even imbibing some of their traits after knowing hundreds, if not thousands of them since I started my writing career more than 30 years ago, I would like to cite the ‘best and the brightest’ Peemayers who were honored during the Philippine Military Academy alumni homecoming on Saturday.

I have dined, wined, played good games and had a hearty laugh with many of these Cavaliers since the day I started writing for the now defunct Times Journal in 1989 until I transferred to the People’s Journal and People’s Tonight in Year 2000. Hundreds of them have already retired from the police and the military service and only a little over 50 remained in the PNP, with some of them set to retire this year.

However, nobody can ignore the fact that these Peemayers have been among the ‘best and the brightest’ in our dear country, some of them even sacrificing their lives in the battlefield to keep terror and criminality while trying their best to follow their Honor Code: “We, the cadets, do not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate among us those who do” even after graduation from Fort del Pilar.

Thus, my congratulations to the following PMA Lifetime Achievement Awardees, my friends, retired General Jun Avenido of PMA Class 1967 and Senator Ping Lacson of PMA Class 1971; as well as Mel Rosales (Class 1968); and Edgar ‘Egay’ Aglipay, also a former PNP chief and classmate of now presidential candidate Lacson.

Gen. Avenido is one of the best officials produced by PMA Class 1967 who rose to become the PNP Deputy Chief for Administration and went on to become the 1st Director General of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the country’s lead anti-narcotics body, during its early days of successfully smashing secret shabu factories and jailing drug lords in the country.

Gen. Lacson of course is known as ‘Supercop’ when he was still the PNP chief and head of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force November 16, 1999 to February 16, 2001. from Under him, the PNP enjoyed one of its highest public approval rating due to its no nonsense crackdown against rogues in uniform and other forms of corruption. He also became known for his good governance programs, incorruptible ways, his ‘what is right must be kept right, what is wrong must be set right’ policy, his decision not to accept his yearly P200 million pork barrel fund in the Senate.

Rosales is a retired Armed Forces Major General who used to head the Office of Civil Defense during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. In August 2020, he joined a group of retired PNP and Armed Forces officials in rejecting renewed calls of supporters of President Duterte to establish a revolutionary government saying it was ‘baseless, illegal and would only add to the suffering of our people.’

Aglipay is the 12th PNP chief in Philippine history-the 3rd to be appointed by PGMA. The PNP chief from August 23, 2004 to March 14, 2005, the crimefighter’s appointment however became controversial since he got the top PNP post just weeks before his 56th birthday, thus the need for the president to extend him for several months. A wealthy businessman and co-owner of one of the country’s biggest private security agencies and trucking firms and founder of the DIWA party-list, Aglipay is also the father-in-law-of former DPWH secretary-turned senatorial candidate Mark Villar, one of the country’s richest men.

The other awardees are also good friends way back in the late 80s when they were still Captains, Majors or Lieutenant Colonels: retired Maj. Gen. Benjamin ‘Benjie’ Magalong (PMA ‘Sandigan’ Class of 1982) who is seeking his 2nd term as mayor of Baguio City; former Colonel Michael Ray Aquino, a classmate from PMA ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988 of PNP chief, Gen. Dionards Carlos, and Manila Police District director, Brigadier Gen. Leo ‘Paco’ Francisco of PMA ‘Tanglaw’ Diwa Class of 1992.

Gen. Magalong, a former Cordillera police director and PNP-CIDG director who became known for standing his ground amid pressures from a number of President Benigno Aquino allies to alter some facts and recommendations they made during their investigation of the infamous Mamasapano, Maguindanao Massacre on January 24, 2015 which killed the Gallant SAF 44, was cited for his outstanding accomplishments in public administration. Under him, the City of Pines has experienced a major positive transformation even under the new normal.

Col. Aquino, ‘Ninoy’ to many of us was cited for his outstanding contributions to PMA alumni affairs. Of course, who will forget the famous Col. Michael Ray Aquino of the PAOCTF who, just like his boss Ping Lacson, really led by example to instill discipline in the police force while going all-out against kidnappers, bank robbers, terrorists and misfits and scalawags in the PNP.

I have been a living witness to how ‘Ninoy’ really commanded wide respect and recognition in the force where he became one of its youngest police colonels and a nemesis of criminals. He was also wrongly accused and imprisoned in connection with the Dacer-Corbito case but, along with Lacson, was acquitted. Now a top honcho of Solaire company, Ninoy is already living a peaceful and blessed life with his wife Fatima and son Neion, helping all others in the best way he can.

Brig. Gen. Francisco, ‘Paco’ to his friends and peers yesterday made history after getting his 2nd prestigious PMA Cavalier Award for Police Operations. The member of PMA Class of 1992 was the PMA Cavalier Awardee for Police Operations in 2010. He got the same award 12 years later after being chosen by a PMA jury which deliberated on the five-year accomplishments of the candidates in the field of police operations.

Two other members of PMA Class 1992, my friends Brig. Gen. Jong Estomo of Police Regional Office 5 in Bicol region and Brig. Gen. Bong Caramat of PRO13 in Caraga region got the same highly-coveted Cavalier award in 2015 and 2021 respectively.

The 52-year old Brig. Gen. Francisco has been in-charge of keeping peace and order in Manila since December 1, 2020. A former top CIDG official, Francisco has led the Manila’s Finest in ensuring that Manila will experience an ‘all-time low’ crime situation in 2021 as the MPD launched a massive campaign against illegal drugs and other forms of criminality and corruption amid the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MPD is also a key unit of the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Maj. Gen. Vic Danao of PMA Class 1991 which made a huge dent in fighting drugs and criminality last year while registering a 14 percent reduction in all major crimes in Metro Manila. On June 21, 2021, MPD and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operatives seized some 38 kilograms of shabu worth P258 million inside a condominium building in Malate, Manila.

The drugs were believed all set to be distributed in different parts of Metro Manila by a Chinese-led drug trafficking syndicate when they were recovered by the MPD and PDEA agents.

The main source of the drugs identified as Sy Zhunchen was arrested in the aftermath of a series of PDEA and Philippine National Police anti-narcotics operations in Parañaque and Las Piñas City and in Imus City in Cavite.

My congratulations too to the following Armed Forces and Coast Guard officials: Cavalier Crispiniano Acosta (Class 1982), awardee for outstanding accomplishments in private enterprise; Cavalier Erwin Rommel Luga (Class 1982), awardee for outstanding accomplishments in special field of religion-other endeavor);

Cavalier Edgardo de Leon (Class 1988), awardee for outstanding performance in staff functions; Cavalier William Gonzales (Class 1989), awardee for outstanding performance in command administration; Cavalier Roy Echeverria (Class 1993); awardee for outstanding performance in Coast Guard operations; Cavalier Melvin Banua (Class 1997), awardee for outstanding performance in air operations (Senior Officer);

Cavalier Herbert Dilag (Class 1998), awardee for outstanding performance in special operations; Cavalier Ashley Nastor (Class 2000), awardee for outstanding performance in naval operations (Senior Officer); Cavalier Gladiuz Calilan (Class 2001), awardee for outstanding performance in Army operations;

Cavalier Mark Paul Mendoza (Class 2006), awardee for outstanding performance in air operations (Junior Officer): and Cavalier Junrey Sajulga (Class 2013), awardee for outstanding performance in naval operations (Junior Officer).

I learned that the PMA Alumni Association, Inc. conferred Sen. Lacson a “Lifetime Achievement Award” in recognition of his contributions in his over five decades in public service. The PMAAAI cited Lacson’s exemplary and unblemished service to the country” characterized by his “faithful adherence to the PMA virtues of Courage, Loyalty, and Integrity.