Honor thy father, thy son

HERE’s an interesting piece about three friends who are all top Philippine National Police officials, their fathers and their sons and why good upbringing means so much to everybody in this whole world. First, I’m referring to the father of National Capital Region Police Office chief, Major General Gilor Eleazar.

Last Thursday, Eleazar received a posthumous award given to his late father, a World War II veteran named Victor during the so-called Sunset Ceremony held in celebration of the Philippine Veterans Week.

The NCRPO chief received on behalf of his father, Staff Sergeant Victor L. Eleazar the World War II Victory Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal and a Posthumous Medal in grateful recognition and appreciation of the elder Eleazar’s services and honorable performance of duty as Filipinos fought the Japanese invaders from 1941 to 1945.

Born on May 11, 1927, Sgt. Victor, also known as ‘Tatay Toti’ joined the Philippine guerrilla movement at the young age of 15 and was initially assigned to collect supplies or raise funds to buy supplies for those in the frontlines. As a result, he found himself many times in the battlefield as guerrillas battled the Japanese forces.

‘Tatay Toti’ did not ask the permission of his father Guillermo or ‘Lolo Memong,’ as Gilor calls the latter, when he secretly joined the guerrilla forces. However, Gilor recounted that his father’s sense of patriotism at a very young age and his sense of camaraderie overwhelmed him.

Gilor said that when their father was still alive, he used to tell them he never thought about any fear when he joined the guerrilla movement. The old man’s thought was very clear and simple: help his countrymen fight the enemy and preserve our freedom.

The NCRPO chief told me that it was his father who encouraged him to join the Philippine Military Academy, the great one who served as his inspiration to render genuine service to the country.  A member of PMA ‘Hinirang’ Class of 1987, I’m very sure that Filipinos, specifically Metro Manila residents already know how good Eleazar is.

Second, I never knew that PNP spokesman, Colonel Bernie Banac, a friend from PMA ‘Tanglaw Diwa’ Class of 1992 is a son of a Constabulary officer who was killed in the line of duty until former PNP chief, Gen. Nick Bartolome mentioned the matter to me during a recent dinner-fellowship.

It happened when Generals Bartolome, Dindo Espina and Wilben Mayor, all former PNP spokespersons joined me and friends-philanthropists, Dr. James Dy and his wife, Julieta, Don Antonio Tan and Nelson Guevarra in paying a simple tribute to our common friend Jimmy Cheng, publisher of the Binondo-based United Daily News.

During our dinner, Gen. Bartolome recalled that when he first met Banac, he asked the latter if he is related to a ‘1Lt. Banac’ who happened to be his fellow officer at the famous 4th Philippine Constabulary Zone based in Parang, Maguindanao. Bartolome said he was surprised to learn from the then very young Inspector Banac that yes, ‘1st Lt. Banac’ is his father.

‘1st Lt. Banac’ is actually Bernardino Banac, a true-blue soldier who fathered five kids and just like ‘Tatay Toti’ was the one who inspired his son Bernie to join the PMA. A product of the old ROTC, the elder Banac however did not live long enough to see Bernie graduate from Fort del Pilar.

I learned that in November 1990, then Maj. Bernardino Banac, already the commander of the Regional Special Action Force in Northern Mindanao was killed while leading his men in a gunbattle with heavily-armed New People’s Army guerrillas in Cogon area. He was only 45 years old when an NPA bullet hit his head while Bernie was still a 3rd year PMA student. After a week of fighting for his life in a military hospital, the brave officer passed away in the service of the country. To Bernie Banac, his late father was an epitome of a real fighting Constabulary soldier who always lived up to their motto ‘always outnumbered but never outfought.’           

Last but not the least, I heard that PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde has accepted the apology issued by the state-owned Clark Development Corporation to him and his son Kevin over an incident involving the latter and the head of the CDC’s public safety division.

The apology was issued three days after the CDC said that there was a ‘misunderstanding’ between retired Chief Superintendent Romeo Ver and the 21-year-old Kevin in Clark Freeport.  “The Clark Development Corporation (CDC) would like to issue this public apology to PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde and his son for the inconvenience and embarrassment that arose in an incident inside Clark,” said the CDC, which manages the Clark Freeport Zone.

It added that it had “already taken swift and decisive measures to address the incident” and to ensure that it would not happen  again. I know Gen. Albayalde’s sons as very respectful and obedient, all raised to become good children by their parents. In at least two occasions, they greeted me—a total stranger” with ‘mano’ to show their respect to me, the 1st when my family and I paid our respect to Gen. Albayalde’s dear departed mother and the 2nd, during our chance encounter in a Quezon City restaurant.

I haven’t heard any report too about abusive acts by any of Gen. Albayalde’s kids unlike with some spoiled kids of police generals-both retired and active-whom I have met in the past. The incident took place last April 2 when Kevin and his two policemen-companions went to jog and bike at the Clark parade grounds.

From what I heard from many sources, the argument started when Ver and his men accosted the trio for illegal parking. I learned that Kevin did not identify himself as the son of the PNP chief to the CDC men and it was his companions who explained their side.

Tension erupted when the CDC guards reportedly displayed extreme arrogance to the three and even threatened them not knowing that the youngest of them is the son of the Chief. As a result, charges of slander by deeds, grave coercion, unjust vexation and direct assault upon an agent of a person in authority were filed against the CDC security men.

Gen. Albayalde maintained that his son was unaware that parking is not allowed at
the parade grounds but immediately accepted his violation when apprehended by the CDC police. However, he said that he doesn’t understand the need to shout at children over a simple parking ticket.

“ It’s not even necessary. That is a show of extreme arrogance. The traffic altercation is a very simple and a petty thing for you to show your arrogance. “My son has high regard for police but with what happened, the image of policemen was tainted in his mind. He understood the situation but what confused him is the attitude of the CDC executive who identified himself as an ex-general,” the PNP chief was quoted as saying.

Due to the incident,  Gen. Albayalde has called for a review of security personnel in  freeport zones in the country. Last I heard is that Ver’s immediate superior, retired Gen. Ramsey Ocampo also tendered his resignation as a result of the incident.