FORTY of them joined the Philippine Constabulary after graduating in Fort del Pilar in March 1988 and quickly saw action in different parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao where they battled communist and Moro insurgents and other lawless elements. I’m referring to members of Philippine Military Academy ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988, 24 of them now key officers of the Philippine National Police.
The highest-ranked of them all is Chief Superintendent Leo Angelo ‘Bong’ Leuterio, a Davao veteran and now the acting head of the PNP Internal Affairs Service tasked by PNP chief, General Ronald ‘Bato’ de la Rosa to investigate all policemen linked directly or indirectly to drugs as well as shooting incidents triggered by the Duterte government’s massive crackdown against drugs. As of yesterday, official PNP reports said that 825 armed suspects have been killed in gunfights with the police since last July 1.
By virtue of their position, on deck for promotion to the next higher rank are Senior Supts. Dionards Carlos, the PNP spokesperson and chief of the Public Information Office; Rolando ‘RJ’ Hinanay, the head of the PNP Senior Officers Placement and Promotion Board; Rene Pamuspusan, now with a super-division of the Directorate for Operations; Dennis Basngi, the chief directorial staff of the elite Special Action Force; Anthony Alcañeses, the deputy of the Headquarters Support Service; Joel Orduña, the deputy director for administration of the Southern Police District and Elmer Cabreros, the deputy of the PNP Training Service.
Other members of the Class are Senior Supt. John Bulalacao of the Civil Security Group; Benigno ‘Bong’ Durana Jr., now with the United Nations headquarters in Italy; Celso Pestaño, the chief directorial staff of the Finance Service; Dennis ‘Booboy’ Agustin, the regional chief directorial staff (RCDS) of the Police Regional Office 7 in Central Visayas;
Angelito Casimiro, the RCDS of the Cordillera Police Regional Office; former San Juan City police chief Joselito Daniel, now with a super-division of the Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development; Herminio ‘Jun’ Tadeo of the Directorate for Operations; Samuel ‘Sam’ Rodriguez, the RCDS of the PRO5 in Bicol region; Bernabe ‘Joel’ Balba, a hardworking former Rizal police director and now the RCDS of PRO4-A in Calabarzon region;
Ferdinand ‘Ono’ Daway—he was named ‘Ono’ in the PMA since his birthday is November 1—, the former RCDS of PRO9 in Western Mindanao and now deputy of the Maritime Group; Antonio ‘Tony’ Mendoza Jr., the Police Attache in San Francisco, USA; Graciano ‘MJ’ Mijares, the RCDS of PRO3 in Central Luzon; Marni Marcos, the RCDS of PRO8 in Eastern Visayas; Joselito ‘Joyet’ Esquibel, the deputy director for administration of the Quezon City Police District; Adolfo ‘Boyet’ Samala, the CDS of the Aviation Security Group; Rwin Pagkalinawan, the Police Attache in China; and Ferdinand ‘Ferdie’ Divina, a former Bulacan police director who became the nemesis of criminals in the province and now the RCDS of PRO1 in Ilocos-Pangasinan region.
Perhaps the most famous ‘Maringal’ in PNP history is my good friend Senior Supt. Michael Ray Aquino, long retired from the service and now the security chief of Solaire Resort and Casino. Other members are Director Wilkins Villanueva, now the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-National Capital Region Office; world-class taekwondo artist Henry Duque; retired Supt. Bong Alcanzo, now also U.S.-based; retired Supt. Marlon Castañeda, retired Senior Supt. Mariano Manaog Jr., now based in Australia; retired Supt. Alfonso Himatay, also now based in U.S.; Danny Salvador of Tuguegarao City; Antonio Ponce, described by his mistahs as a real estate magnate in San Diego, California; and Army Colonel Felimon Radam.
Of the 40 original ‘Maringal’ Constabulary men, three who joined the PNP have already passed away. They are my friends, Senior Supts. Ronnie Navarro, John Lopez and Asper Cabula. Another is Constabulary 2nd Lieutenant Imperial. Another member also became a one-star general of the PNP Internal Affairs Service but is now retired Chief Supt. Francisco Santiago.
Durana, Cabula, Hinanay and Santiago joined the elite SAF after graduation while the rest of the Class joined the Regional SAF and assigned to different regions in the country. During the bloody December 1989 attempt to overthrow the Corazon Aquino government, many of them saw action in Manila where they helped loyal troopers repel the mutiny, even going after some of their classmates.
I used to play good physical basketball with many ‘Maringals’ like Aquino, Leuterio, Orduña, Balba, Esquible, Pestaño and Agustin in the past, sharing good laughs with them each time we meet. Orduña is a 3-point shooter who got a major promotion after he played a big role in the capture of a top communist party leader in the country in the 90s.
Who will forget Michael Ray Aquino and his exploits in Negros Island region along with Marcos. Aquino, we fondly call him Ninoy would become the most trusted officer of former PNP chief and Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force commander, General Ping Lacson who is now returning as a Senator of the Republic.
I have seen Ninoy perform with honesty and dedication during the PAOCTF days, he being instrumental in countless PAOCTF operations that netted major drug traffickers, kidnappers and bank robbers. He stayed loyal to Sen. Lacson, was jailed in the U.S. on trumped-up charges during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and later was sent back to Manila during the start of the Aquino presidency. He has been acquitted of all the charges filed against him.
Carlos is the ‘McGyver’ of the Class. A commando, skydiver, scuba diver and shooter, the former Quezon police director is known for his anti-drug exploits in the early 2000. As a former PDEA and PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force officer, he got involved in major PDEA-PNP operations which led in the dismantling of shabu laboratories in Antipolo City, Mandaue City and Davao City. Who would think that he would be speaking in behalf of the 160,000-strong police force?
The Antipolo City lab is so far the biggest drug facility smashed by the government. During the operation in Davao City then under Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, government agents shot dead six armed Chinese shabu manufacturers. By the way, did you know that Durana was wounded in action during a firefight with New People’s Army rebels in Mindanao in the 90s? I was told that he was rescued by troops led by a junior officer, now newly-promoted Chief Supt. Cesar Binag of PMA Class 1987, now the director of the Firearms and Explosives Office.