ONE sunny day in February 2011, members of Philippine Military Academy ‘Makatao’ Class of 1989 marched at the sacred Borromeo Field in Fort del Pilar wearing black t-shirts , its front emblazoned with the words ‘Arrogance is not part of my discipline’ and its back with the bold words ‘Be One; Be Makatao.’
The ‘Makataos’ did not speak a word then but many who attended the PMA alumni homecoming that year said they made their message loud and clear: one calling for the armed services to unite and be ‘pro-people’ and most importantly, they sent their obvious message to an underclassman-turned Senator Antonio Trillanes.
After all, the march came barely days after Trillanes openly berated his upperclassman, former Armed Forces chief of staff and Defense secretary Angelo Reyes at the Senate hearing on alleged corruption in the military prompting the latter to shoot himself dead on February 8, 2011 in front of his mother’s tomb.
More than eight years after that incident, there are still 15 members of PMA Class 1989 in the active service in the Philippine National Police, with two of them, Senior Superintendent Edwin Paras already retired on June 13, 2017 and the 2nd, Senior Supt. Eduardo ‘Jojo’ Acierto currently in the limelight after making a celebrated expose which has rocked the entire country months after he was officially dismissed from the police force and months before his official retirement at the age of 56 this coming December.
There are 15 active PMA Class 1989 members at present, many of them occupying key PNP positions and having new ranks. Among them are Police Brigadier Generals Val de Leon of the Firearms and Explosives Office, Bert Ferro of the Drug Enforcement Group, Jun Azurin, the Executive Officer of the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management; Rhodel Sermonia of the Police-Community Relations Group; Bert Solomon of the EOD/K9 Group;
Chiqui Malayo of the PNP Academy; Jess Cambay, the Deputy Regional Director for Administration of the Police Regional Office 6 in Western Visayas; Ulysses Caton, the DRDA of PRO12 in Central Mindanao;, Manny Abu, the deputy director of the elite Special Action Force; and Jireh Fidel of the Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development.
The others are soon-to-be Brig. Gen. Bart Bustamante, currently the deputy director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group; Sterling Blanco, the Executive Officer of the Directorate for Police-Community Relations; Rex dela Rosa whom I heard is now the DRDA of PRO12 after Caton went on non-duty status ahead of his mandatory retirement this coming July 23; and Colonel Mario Sinocruz Jr. of the PRO2 in Cagayan Valley who will retire on September 15 next year.
I learned that with the designation of dela Rosa as PRO12’s 2nd-highest official, my friend, Col. Joseph Gohel, the deputy director of the Anti-Kidnapping Group will go on record as the last PMA Class 1989 member in the PNP who is yet to be given a position that will qualify him for promotion to star-rank. I hope and pray that Gohel—he will retire three years from now— will get his wish sooner or later.
The youngest of the Class in the PNP is Sermonia who will retire on January 26, 2024 followed by de Leon who will retire in May 2023 and by Cambay and Azurin who will retire in April 2023. The rest will retire one after the other in 2022, 2021, 2020 and this year—Solomon on September 22 and Caton on July 3 respectively.
I have known many of these fine officers and gentlemen back from their junior days in the force. One of them is Acierto, a no-nonsense anti-narcotics officer who has earned the ire of President Duterte after he claimed that former Duterte economic adviser Michael Yang is into illegal drug activities along with one Allan Lim.
Right now, Acierto has his back against the wall with the President charging at him and his upperclassmen from the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and even senators maintaining Yang is not in their list and he needs to substantiate his charges. Acierto happened to be a bemedalled officer of the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force headed by former PNP chief-turned Senator Ping Lacson and was once a former deputy director of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group and now the PNP Drug Enforcement Group.
What could have prompted Acierto to make his controversial expose? Could it be because of his frustrations in the service or something else? Nobody can tell and even his mistahs told me that they feel sorry for the official whose resume speaks for himself.
For one, Acierto was instrumental in the arrest and conviction of dozens of big-time shabu manufacturers, smugglers and traffickers since 2000 as well as the dismantling of several secret shabu laboratories and storage facilities in the country including the one smashed in Davao City in the early 2000 when President Duterte was still the city mayor.
However, his career took a dive when he was embroiled in the controversial purchase of over 1,000 AK-47 which were believed to have been acquired by the New People’s Army as well as the Werfast controversy during the term of Gen. Alan Purisima.
Acierto is also known to have been bypassed thrice to head the PNP Drug Enforcement Group. He was supposed to have headed the PNP-DEG when it was first created after the abolition of the PNP-AIDG following the abduction and murder of Korean national Jee Ick Joo by a group of rogue AIDG officers but the post was given to now Brig. Gen Graciano Mijares who went on to get his star-rank and is now the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Police Regional Office director.
Appointed instead as PNP-DEG deputy, Acierto was said to have been promised to head the unit after Mijares but when the latter was appointed as ARMM police director, the position was given to a PNP Academy graduate, now retired Chief Supt. Joseph Adnol. The last straw that drained the patience of Acierto was when he was promised again that he will be the next PNP-DEG director after Adnol. However, Adnol was replaced by Ferro. The rest is history.