Did you know that Philippine Military Academy ‘Makatao’ Class of 1989 members Senior Superintendents Dionicio Borromeo and Rhodel Sermonia are already holders of the much-coveted Country’s Outstanding Policemen in Service or COPS award while Senior Supt. Sterling Blanco became the 1st and last winner of the PNP LEAD award during the term of former PNP chief General Jess Verzosa?
Sermonia, Borromeo and fellow Senior Supts. Eduardo ‘Jojo’ Acierto and Jose Chiquito ‘Chiqui’ Malayo are also recipients of the prestigious PMA Cavalier’s Award for PNP Operations. I heard that Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius ‘Bert’ Ferro, the head of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group is running for the same award this year.
Of the PMA Class 1989 members,—they have the distinction of having the smallest number of PNP officers from PMA Class 1982 to 1992— 12 have become Police Provincial or City Directors. Senior Supt. Jesus ‘Jess’ Cambay was once a Baguio City Police Office director while Senior Supt. Bartolome ‘Bart’ Bustamante became a Caloocan City Police Office chief. Malayo was once a Zamboanga City Police Office director who gained national prominence during the bloody Moro National Liberation Front siege in Zamboanga City in September 2013. A fellow basketball player, Malayo in 2013 was abducted by MNLF gunmen but he emerged hours later after persuading his captors to surrender in a twist in the week-long standoff.
Members of the Class who have been PNP Provincial Directors are Ferro (Compostela Valley), Senior Supt. Rodolfo ‘Jun’ Azurin (Benguet), Senior Supt. Ulysses Caton (Capiz), Sermonia (Bulacan), Senior Supt. Valeriano ‘Val’ de Leon (Quezon), Senior Supt. Manuel ‘Manny’ Abu (Zambales), Senior Supt. Rex De la Rosa (Sultan Kudarat), Senior Supt. Omega Jireh Fidel (Batangas) and Blanco (Pangasinan and Ilocos Norte).
I have known majority of the members of the Class since they were young officers. I remember Ferro, Acierto and Azurin as young officials of the famous Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force of then PNP chief, now Senator Ping Lacson. The three were known for their involvement in major PAOCTF operations which led in the neutralization of some of the country’s most notorious kidnappers, bank robbers and drug manufacturers and traffickers from 1999 to 2000.
Ferro, once the head of the Philippine Bomb Data Center even testified during the trial of Ramzi Ahmed Youses in the United States in connection with the discovery of the infamous Oplan Bojinka, a large-scale three-phase attack planned by Islamists Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to assassinate Pope John Paul II, blow up 11 airliners in flight from Aisa to the U.S. to kill around 4,000 passengers and shut down air travel around the world, and crash a plane into the headquarters of the US. Central Intelligence Agency in Fairfax County, Virginia in 1995. The Bojinka plot was disrupted by the PNP after an accidental fire hit the terrorist’s apartment in Manila.
Acierto is known for his anti-narcotics exploits, he having played a major role in the dismantling of major drug syndicates in The Philippines including the operations of a secret shabu laboratory in Davao City which led in the killing of six Chinese drug manufacturers as well as the infamous shabu ‘tiyangge’ in Pasig City operated by now convicted drug personality Amin Imam Boratong and his wife.
Sermonia is also known for his exploits with the CIDG and in Caloocan City. Azurin, Sermonia, the suave de Leon and Cambay are the youngest members of the Class who will be retiring after the country has elected a new leader after President Duterte. Cambay will retire on April 20, 2023; Azurin will retire on April 24, 2023; De Leon on May 7, 2023; and Sermonia, the youngest of them all, on January 26, 2024.
Did you know that of the original 26 who joined the now defunct Philippine Constabulary after graduating from Fort del Pilar in February 1989 and later the Philippine National Police in 1991, four are now already out of the service namely Manny Chu, Erwin Robles, Hammy Geonzon and Borromeo.
Chu retired as a PNP Senior Inspector while Robles left the service with the rank of Senior Superintendent. Geonzon retired as a Police Superintendent and now based in Las Vegas, USA while Borromeo is still appealing his conviction over a major drug case and has been imprisoned at the New Bilibid Prisons for several years now.
Two of the original ‘Makatao’ Constabulary officers, 2nd Lieutenants Allan Flores and Perfecto Sagun became the two ‘casualties’ of the Class during their younger years. 2Lt. Flores died in a gunbattle with heavily-armed New People’s Army guerrillas in Mati, Davao Oriental while under the command of a fighting Captain Ronald ‘Bato’ de la Rosa, yes, the man who would later become the PNP chief. Sagun on the other hand died while undergoing training with the elite PC Special Action Force.
Some members of the Class called me up to make some slight correction on my previous piece about them. Edwin Paras is now a Senior Superintendent assigned at the PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Southern Luzon while Aldrick Torre joined the Air Force, not the Philippine Army. (My apologies for the slight error. I blame it on my handwriting).
2Lt. Flores was among the four members of the Class who were first assigned in Region 11 in Southern Mindanao. Joining him were Ferro, Class marcher Connors Canlas who transferred to the Army and Chu. They served under a tough and battle-tested officer named ‘Bato’ whom they had no inkling will become our top cop.
Of the 26 original PC officers, three of them, then 2Lts. Mon Tampil, Norberto ‘Bert’ Solomon’ and Abu joined the elite PC Special Action Force and helped fight mutineers who tried to overthrow the Corazon Aquino presidency. Tampil however transferred to the Army and went on to become a member of the elite Presidential Security Group, acting as a close-in security of President Fidel V. Ramos.
Tampil has long retired from the Army and is now based in Ireland. Solomon, a point guard and once my teammate from the PNP Executive Basketball Team is now a Senior Superintendent and the Deputy Director for Operations of the PNP Intelligence Group. Senior Supt. Abu is the deputy director of the Police Security and Protection Group.
The rest of the Class became members of different Regional Special Action Forces or RSAFs and got their ‘baptism of fire’ while fighting communists and Moro insurgents and other lawless elements in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. They include Acierto, Azurin and Paras who were all assigned to the then PC/INP Region 12 headquarters in Camp Parang in Maguindanao which is now known as the headquarters of the PNP Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Acierto is currently the Deputy Director of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group while Azurin is now the head of a Super Division of the PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management.
Those who were assigned in Region 9 or Western Mindanao were Senior Supts. Malayo, Joseph Ulysses Gohel, Fidel and de la Torre. Malayo is now the deputy director of the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office, Gohel is the deputy director of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group while Fidel is now with the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management.