Thank you for your service: PMA ‘Marangal’ Class of 1988

June 11, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 1172 views

Alfred DalizonI’M referring to members of the Philippine Military Academy ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988, many of them good friends from the Philippine National Police who have all left the service with pride and distinction after serving the country well since they graduated from the elite Ford del Pilar 34 years ago.

The last five of them led by former PNP chief, General Dionards Carlos have retired this year. My ‘compadre’ Dionards Carlos retired a day before the May 9 national and local elections after seeing to it at all their preparations to ensure what has turned out to be the most peaceful, fair and credible polls in recent history are in order.

After a sterling career in the military and the police force, Dionards retired last May 8 after becoming the country’s 27th PNP chief. Carlos is a known ‘soldier’s soldier,’—a well-rounded officer, skydiver, scuba diver, Big Bike rider, a Special Action Force officer.

He used to be a Quezon police director who went on to become a PNP spokesperson, a PNP Aviation Security Group and PNP Highway Patrol Group director, a Police Regional Office 8 director in Eastern Visayas and later head of the PNP Directorate for Police-Community Relations.

Dionards also became a PNP Director for Information Communications Technology Management, a DIPO-Visayas head and later the PNP The Chief Directorial Staff of TCDS which is the 4th highest position in the police force.

I’m really proud to tell my friends and neighbors that the former PNP spokesman who used to visit me and my family in our home wearing his favorite Batman costume while in the company of his fellow ‘Ghost Riders’ every All Saints’ Day became our PNP chief. He and his son Samuel also joined me and our good friend Jimmy Cheng in an unforgettable Taiwan trip in 2017.

The last ‘Maringal’ or the youngest to bow out from the police force is Major General Bernabe ‘Joel’ Balba, the erstwhile commander of the Area Police Command-Visayas. Balba, a friend way back in the early 90s marked his 56th birthday yesterday, June 11 and was given retirement honors by the PNP leadership headed by Lt. Gen. Vic Danao at Camp Crame last Friday.

My family and I fondly remembers Joel Balba as a shy and unassuming officer who used to visit us in our house in sleepy Antipolo City when he was still the Rizal police director. He loves to bring food and we would have some beer before calling it a night during the cold nights of 2014 and 2015.

A former teammate at the PNP Executive Basketball Team, he went on to head two police districts in Metro Manila: the Eastern Police District and the Manila Police District before becoming a Police Regional Office 8 director in Eastern Visayas and later commander of the elite PNP Special Action Force. He was named as Area Police Command-Visayas director on May 10, 2021.

Then there is the 2nd youngest, Maj. Gen. Herminio Tadeo Jr., the erstwhile PNP Director for Personnel and Records Management who retired last May 24. Jun to many of us, Tadeo is a seasoned officer of the PNP Highway Patrol Group and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group who, in August 2020 was named by then PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa as director of the PNP Finance Service after a 6-month stint as PNP Health Service director.

Tadeo eventually joined the Command Group of the National Capital Region Police Office and later became the PNP Area Police Command-Visayas deputy director before being picked by their mistah, former PNP chief, Gen. Dionards Carlos to be his Director for Personnel. Before he retired, Tadeo gifted me with a ‘Maringal’ Rider’s Vest which I will forever treasure, being a Rider, actually a member of HPG Motorcycle Riding Class of 1998 or the HPG Centennial Riders.

Another is former PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Lt. Gen. Ferdie Divina who retired last May 5. Divina gained fame when he became a Bulacan Police Provincial Office director and launched a no-nonsense crackdown against illegal drug trafficking and abuse and other forms of criminality as well as police scalawags. He later became a Police Regional Office 8 director in Eastern Visayas and later Area Police Command-Southern Luzon commander.

Last March 6, he was designated by Gen. Carlos as the PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, the 3rd highest position in the 225,000-strong police force. Divina also became a PNP Director for Intelligence in August 2020 after being appointed by then PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa.

Another is Lt. Gen. Marni Marcos, the erstwhile commander of the Area Police Command-Northern Luzon who retired last April 22 and replaced by Lt. Gen. Jun Azurin of PMA Class 1989.

Marcos, a proud product of the public school system in Laoag City in Ilocos Norte-your guess is as good as mine if the question to be asked is: is he related to the Marcoses led by President-elect Bongbong?’—became a Southern Leyte police director and later head of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group.

The Ilocano-speaking general also became a director of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; PNP Director for Comptrollership and later Director for Investigation and Detective Management; and Director for Integrated Police Operations-Eastern Mindanao before being designated as Area Police Command-Northern Luzon by Gen. Carlos last November.

As I have said in a number of previous columns, how time really flies. I have met these officers and gentlemen when they were still young PNP captains and majors working hard to track down wanted criminals and bust organized crime syndicates and rogues in uniform.

As their mistah and my good friend former Police Colonel Michael Ray Aquino had previously told me, Gen. Carlos and their classmate Allen Paredes swapped places while they were about to graduate from Fort del Pilar in 1988.

Carlos originally should have joined the Air Force while Paredes was to join the now defunct Philippine Constabulary. However, Carlos was disqualified from joining the PAF since he has no ‘depth perception’ which is needed to become a pilot.

The rest is history since the one who should have joined the PAF entered the Constabulary and became the head of the PNP, the PC successor while Paredes, who should have joined the PC became an Air Force chief.

Last November, the PMA Class 1988 scored a Philippine record with the designation of Gen. Carlos as chief of the PNP and Gen. Andy Centino as the 57th Armed Forces Chief of Staff. Both have the proven track record, integrity, competence and loyalty to the country which catapulted them to the top of the armed services.

The ‘Maringals’ actually scored a Philippine record with President Duterte’s decision to designate Carlos as PNP chief and Gen. Centino as AFP chief vice another mistah, Gen. Jose Faustino who retired from the military last November 12.

The other ‘Maringals’ who became commanders/directors under the Duterte administration are the following: Admiral Leo Laroya as commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard; Director General Wilkins Villanueva as director general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Vice Admiral Adel Bordado became the Philippine Navy chief; Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes became a Philippine Air Force commanding general; Lt. Gen. Boyet Burgos became a commanding general of the AFP Northern Luzon Command; Lt. Gen. Bob Bacarro became a head the head of the AFP Southern Luzon Command;

Lt. Gen. Iking Enriquez became a head of the AFP Western Command; Lt. Gen. Alfred Rosario became a commanding general of the AFP Western Mindanao Command; Lt. Gen. Bib Dauz became a head of the AFP Central Command; while Lt. Gen. Erick Gloria became an AFP Deputy Chief of Staff;

Then there are Lt. Generals Divina, Marcos and Balba. Another is Lt. Gen. CJ Cartujano who became the PMA Superintendent. As I have written years ago, members of PMA ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988 are good friends way back. Of course, I won’t fail to mention my friend Michael Ray Aquino or ‘Ninoy’ to relatives, friends and peers.

Ninoy was the former operations chief of the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force headed by former PNP chief and the gentleman Senator Ping Lacson. During the PAOCTF days, Michael Ray commanded wide respect and recognition in the force where he became one of the youngest police colonels while sending fear to the hearts of the country’s most notorious kidnappers, drug lords, bank robbers and terrorists.

The rest again is history as Ninoy went to jail in the United States after being hunted by the former Macapagal-Arroyo administration and being accused of helping to transmit classified information from the US to Philippine opposition leaders. He returned to the country and was detained at the NBI jail in connection with the Dacer-Corbito double murder case until he and his co-accused led by Sen. Lacson were acquitted. Ninoy is now living a peaceful and blessed life with his wife Fatima and son Neion.

Other PNP friends from the Class are Maj. Gen. RJ Hinanay who retired last February. Others who have retired two years ago or last year or this year are Major Generals Bong Durana, Bong Leuterio, Ono Daway, Lito Casimiro and Dennis Agustin and Brigadier Generals Bong Orduña, Celso Pestaño, Anthony Alcañeses, Dennis Basngi, Elmer Cabreros, John Bulalacao, Joyet Esquivel, MJ Mijares, Lito Daniel, Sammy Rodriguez, R’win Pagkalinawan, Rene Pamuspusan and Boyet Samala.