A challenge for PNP-AKG, PNP leadership

MY friend, Brigadier General Glenn Dumlao retired on Friday as director of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) without any frills, without any fanfare on a hot sunny day wherein we waited with  bated breath for who will be the next PNP-AKG director.

Glenn, a member of PNP Academy Class 1988 who actually marked his 56th birthday yesterday did not seek any retirement ceremonies nor a retirement parade or a lavish sendoff party traditionally being given to a retiring police general.

Instead, he merely met his men and friends at the jampacked PNP-AKG headquarters where his deputies presented him his framed medals, his big retirement check and other souvenirs before a simple lunch was served.

A man full of action but known for his very few words, Dumlao spoke for not more than three minutes and told his men that he wants to be remembered as a simple Glenn who daily wanted to be served Ilocano food and a PNP-AKG director who wanted the job done right.

I saw at least four of his classmates and another friend, retired Gen. Jet Villacorte at the crowd which listened to Glenn Villacorte, a member of PMA Class 1983 was there not only as a former colleague and a friend but because he and Glenn have something in common: both of them were among those charged and indicted in connection with the infamous Kuratong Baleleng operations in 1995. As they always say, the rest is history.

While waiting for word on who will replace him, I asked Dumlao what was his most memorable experience in the PNP-AKG and the PNP. Without batting an eyelash, he told me that the death of four of his men while fighting criminals.

He said he won’t forget the day that a subordinate literally died in his hands during a gunbattle with heavily-armed criminals in the mid-90s. Dumlao told me he will be forever haunted by that incident in which the fallen officer’s family blamed him for the untimely death of that guy named ‘Marticio.’ Glenn told me that ‘Marticio’ was shot repeatedly by the criminals they encountered and the victim spoke his last words while Glenn was hugging him.

Dumlao said he would also never forget the fact that three PNP-AKG agents under him died while trying to rescue kidnapping-for-ransom victims from the hands of their armed and defiant kidnappers. “Ako ang Tatay ng mga taga-AKG at sinong ama sa mundong into ang hindi iiyak kung ang anak nila ay papatayin ng mga masasamang loob. Sa totoo lang, napapanaginipan ko pa din sila,” he told me.

Dumlao particularly referred to the killing of a fellow friend, the brave Lieutenant Colonel, (then Superintendent) Art Masungsong, the head of the PNP-AKG’s Luzon Field Unit while trying to rescue a KFR victim in Angat, Bulacan two days before Christmas 2017.

The brave Masungsong and his men chanced upon a vehicle carrying the kidnappers and their victim in Barangay Sta. Lucia in Angat, Bulacan on that fateful morning. He was assaulting the kidnappers when shot to death by the gunmen. Four of the kidnappers were killed during the gunfight while Major Reynaldo Lumactod was wounded.

That operation led to the rescue of KFR victim Raziel Esguerra who was kidnapped by the suspect on December 22, 2017. The gunmen later called up the victim’s family and demanded P15 million for her safe release.

That incident also showed the fact that PNP-AKG agents would not dare risk their lives just to rescue KFR victims and protect the people. It also triggered calls for PNP-AKG to be equipped with proper equipment including world-class bullet-proof vests and Kevlar helmets they need each time they assault kidnappers’ lairs, unmindful of the fact that these would not guarantee them full protection.

Glenn Dumlao is an example of a fine police officer who managed to rise despite many falls. He was among the best officers of the now defunct PAOCTF which sowed fear among criminals and gave the PNP its highest public trust rating during the time of now Senator Ping Lacson.

However, he was faced with many controversies including the Kuratong Baleleng case; the abduction and murder of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver on November 24, 2000.

He was arrested in June 2001 and testified against Lacson and then President Joseph Estrada and several others, fled the country in May 2003, arrested in the United States in November 2008, was sent back to Manila in July 2009.

However, in August 2010, Dumlao, during an appearance in court refused to go along with the script handed to him by a DoJ prosecution team and “stood his ground” defending Lacson’s innocence. He also said that government prosecutors forced him to pin down Lacson in his testimony. Again, the rest is history.

Shortly after I left the PNP-AKG headquarters past 5 p.m. Friday, I received word that a member of PMA ‘Tanglaw Diwa’ Class of 1992, Colonel Jonnel Estomo has been designated by PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde as the replacement of Dumlao who became the unit’s director in December 2016.

Estomo is a seasoned police investigator and tracker of most wanted criminals in the country who will now head the PNP-AKG’s successful fight against kidnapping-for-ransom syndicates in the country since December 2016.

I learned that Col. Alex Tagum of the Davao City Police Office was also recommended to replace Dumlao. However, there was an opposition to that since the PNP-AKG director carries the rank of a one-star police general. If the PNP will place Tagum as its director, he will make history as the 1st City Director which is equivalent to a Provincial Director to jump straight to a star-rank position. That move would break the current PNP policy and would trigger massive demoralization in the police force for sure.