|Lt. Col. Cris Abrahano|
|Col. Marlou Chan|
By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
I broke bread recently with the two newest police bigwigs of the gargantuan province Pangasinan. They were Pangasinan’s Officer-in-Charge Provincial Director Senior Superintendent Marlou Chan and Dagupan City’s Chief of Police Superintendent Cris Abrahano in one of the cozy nipa huts of Mang Peping Restaurant that is nestled along the new De Venecia Highway in the Bangus City.
Senior Superintendent (Colonel) Marlou Chan
I told Sr. Supt. or Colonel Chan that the omnipresent of spot checking policemen and 63 olive-green drab Special Action Force (Reminiscent of Rhodesian (Now Zimbabwe) Special Ops) have been a laudable sight in the province.
He said he requested the SAF from Camp Crame to augment his more than 2000 policemen who act as deterrents to any scheming hired guns to pounce again on their unwary victims that could add to the 90 corpse they assassinated in the province since January 2012. Police data provides that Pangasinan placed second in the country’s provinces in terms of the most number of firearms- related killings.
The ubiquity of these government forces, thanks to Chan’s initiative, was welcomed by anxious Pangasinenses who thought that the province is destined to become a province in Mexico or Venezuela -- where hired hands at their impunity sow fear to the populace.
“Matibay iyong ginawa niyo, imagine for the last weeks there was almost no killing perpetrated by riding in tandem hired guns. Iyon lang pala ang solutions to neutralize the spate of murders in the province. Bakit hindi na-isip ng mga predecessors niyo iyang koban style niyo? E kung idiretso na lang natin iyan kahit tapos na ang election?,” I posed to him. Chan, who speaks with a charisma of a barnstorming rabble rousing politician, told me unfortunately “nasingitan ako” with one killing in Bolinao town despite of the check point’s dragnet he laid. “How I wish that the 249 killings (where 90 or 36 percent been perpetrated by assassins) could be reduced even just by 100,” he explained passionately in the vernacular. The “Koban” type of deterring crime, he continued, has not been new to him since he implemented it in “Marcos Country” Ilocos Norte (Turf of the beauteous Gov. Imee Marcos Manotoc, and a fan of his “feats”) when he was the provincial director there before he was whisked to Pangasinan by the police hierarchy in Manila.
The colonel, a member of class 1985 at the Philippine Military Academy, said however five days before the May 13, 2013 poll, Comelec resolution mandates that there would be no checkpoints as what he was doing with gusto now. “That’s the downside, eh?” “Just like Resolution 9561-A (Comelec edicts in withdrawing last January 13 this year police escorts to elective officials and taking into effect of gun ban).” I quipped.
By trying to give a signal to the bad guys out there that he has arrived in Pangasinan, Chan’s police operatives have recently swooped down on and searched the residences of two suspects, through two search warrants issued by a judge, and arrested Lito Rimorin, municipal councilor of Natividad, and Rodolfo Bilog, businessman in Natividad for “illegal possession” of hand guns and ammunitions for firearms and hand guns.
A source told me that even the barangay captain of Macabito, Calasiao was apprehended with a 45 caliber hand gun by policemen manning a check point in a wild chase after the Comelec implemented the gun ban. Chan told me that there are about 16,00O loose firearms in the province.
He vowed to “launch war” with Partisan Armed Groups and solves the high-profile cases that bedevil the humungous province. “Ya, that’s good. Even Congressman (Leopoldo) Bataoil (retired police two-star general) paraphrasing pop singer James Ingram in “Just Once” told me that the police in Pangasinan’s “best was not yet enough” in mitigating the spate of killings here,” I told him.
After PMA, as a budding young 2nd Lieutenant of the Philippine Constabulary (predecessor of PNP) in 1986, he was assigned as a chief of police of then Alaminos town under the watch of Mayor Dr. Pedro Braganza, gubernatorial bet Nani’s father. “Armed cattle rustlers reigned there.
I pitied the helpless poor owners of cows, I and my superior (in the regional mobile group) a captain and a West Point Graduate (in the United States Military Academy) have been affronted by the evils brought by these malefactors. He said they formulated a plan that made bovine rustling a thing of the past even today there.”
When I asked that chief of police and policemen all over Pangasinan “have sleepless nights” and have been on their toes since he assumed the police’s top post because like a specter you just sneake in their post at the wee hours to inspect if they are guarding the checkpoints and their stations (Am I right Supt.Poly Cayabyab - Mangaldan town’s new police chief?) .
Chan sheepishly told me: “Pasensiya na sila may insomnia ako, hindi ako makatulog sa gabi”.
Superintendent (Lt. Colonel) Cris Abrahano
The low key Lt. Colonel Abrahano is not new to me. I met him at the house of my “bilas” Colonel Mariel Magaway (PMA Class 1986) in Calasiao when Magaway should be replacing then provincial director Boyet Ricaforte but was aborted one hour before the turn-over at the Provincial Police Headquarter because of politics in Manila. Abrahano, a 1996 alumnus of the Philippine National Police Academy, is a bemedaled Philippine Drug Enforcement Administration officer , just like Marine Major Ferdie Marcelino (the student of my young brod at PMA) whom I met at a raid in San Fabian with my former neighbor at PMA PDEA Region-1 director Bobby Opena at the notorious “Muslim drug den” in Brgy. Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City. “Son of a gun Cris, you surprised a lot of people by you’re taking over the helm of the police office in Dagupan City” I told Abrahano when I saw him with Chan whom I thought I would be meeting only.
Those who were privy on the politics of the Dagupan City’s PNP post was thinking that Lt. Colonel Noel Vallo, chief of police of Calasiao and Cris’s upperclassman at PNPA would be a shoo-in in replacing Lt. Colonel Bong Caramat (the “Last of the Mohicans” of a batch of PC produced by PMA.I know this because I worked at PMA when Caramat was still a huffing and puffing plebe doing his required road run hours at PMA’s main thoroughfare). “You’re a good choice when Dagupan City was reeling from the criticism from various quarters that it could not lick the proliferation of illegal drugs especially those that come from the Muslim area in Bonuan Gueset.” I marveled to him that Opena even used two British Simbas (armored personnel carrier built by our very own Pinoys in Subic) backed up by the black short wearing Navy SWAGs (our Navy’s version of the U.S SEAL, remember those who killed Osama Bin Ladin Abbottabad in Pakistan ?) who watched like a shark on their rubber boats at the sea side overlooking the houses of the suspects, Highway Patrol, PDEA personnel, Erwin Tulfo of TV5, and some UZIs (pronounced: Usiseros residents there).
Opena told me that the Muslim lair is an entrepot of illegal drugs that supply Regions 1, 2, and 3 and the Cordillera. The Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan native who now reside in Pilgrim town Manaoag acknowledged the “tall order” that awaits him in his new post. He said he’ll do his best to meet the expectation of Dagupenos.
But geez, if you browse the curriculum vitae of the soft spoken former Presidential Security Group and former Narcom official, it says the guy is tailored made for his new tough job description just like what Nonito “the Flash” Donairre was to Jorge “El Travieso” Arce. Some of his significant trainings Abrahano put up his sleeves: Narcotic Unit Commander’s Course, International Law Enforcement Academy, Bangkok, Thailand 2005; Seminar, International Drug Enforcement Council, Tokyo, Japan in 2007; Action Officer, Regional Anti Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group (RAIDSOTG), Police Regional Office 1.
Most of his significant accomplishments have been his meritorious promotion from Senior Inspector (Captain) to Chief Inspector (Major) for his role in the seizure of 320 kilos of Shabu in Zambales Province and the neutralization of an International Drug Smuggling group in 2001; Member, Intelligence Team that dismantled the Calumpit Bulacan Drug Laboratory and neutralized the largest manufacturing group in East Asia that operated the lab in 2006; Case Officer of the team that dismantled the Sto Tomas Batangas Clandestine Drug Lab in 2006; Case Officer of the team that dismantled the Rizal Clandestine Drug Lab in 2007; Case Officer of the team that dismantled the Valenzuela City Clandestine Drug Lab in 2008; RO of PDEA 4a that dismantled the Real Quezon Clandestine Drug Lab in 2008; Best Junior Officer of the Year 2006, PDEA NHQ; Best PDEA Regional Office of the Year, 2007; Best PDEA Regional Office of the Year, 2008.
I advised him that being a chief of police of Dagupan (the top three choicest posts (the other is being the provincial director, the crème-la-crème, and the provincial intelligence post), he is not only doing the yeoman’s job of the city’s top cop. “You are a chief of police, congressman, mayor, barangay captain, radio commentator, chief tanod in one package. Media men especially TV and Radio reporters and commentators would be running after you with an almost daily regularity to get your take on the day’s peace and order situation,” I told him. “ just like the post of Colonel Chan, the Dagupan City’s stint can make you go to places,” I said. “Remember the names Romeo Odi, Amado Espino and Leopoldo Bataoil in the provincial command? Dagupan has its share too of those venerable snappy police bosses in Jun Ebdane, Boysie Rosales, to name a few”.
Son of a gun, these folks became generals, congressman, governor, or cabinet secretary. *** Chan told me that once upon a time Pangasinan has been served by soldiers’ soldier, er policemen’s policeman a PC provincial director Odi – a PMAyeer who is a son of a PC Master Sergeant. “I heard that Odi, in a radio commentary, when I was still teaching political science in Manila.
He was a favorite subject of the late baritone voice and funny man former villain actor DZXL broadcaster Rod Navarro who stomped on air: “Give me three Army one star general, and I’ll give you one PC Colonel Romeo Odi, provincial director of Pangasinan who made a lot of progress on peace and order there,” I blurted. Veteran media men Harold Barcelona and Joel Fonseca vouched how gung-ho Odi was:“Matindi, hinahabol iyong mga NPA, sinakay iyong mga media sa Huey helicopter. Tapos binaba kami sa bundok ng Mangatarem para i-cover iyong habulan ng police sa NPA. Matindi rin noong umalis ang helicopter, hindi na kami sinama. Kaya sumakay na kami sa paa namin pababa ng bundok na tinahak namin ng kalahating araw.” Harold, an avid fan of Odi, told me.
“Baka gusto lang kayo i-wala ni Odi sa bundok kasi sobra-sobra na ang media sa Pangasinan,” I asked Harold.
Ow, if you asked me where was consummate media street smart Atong Remogat during the time where Odi and some media men where chasing those NPA? Atong told me he was still with the Army Scout Ranger running after the communist too in the hinterlands of Abra and Isabela. He told me he still does the chasing now: ”Yes, I still do the chasing, but they’re big time catch than those NPA guerrillas. I chase big time politicians now in Pangasinan who could not beat me on the hide and seek game. They can run but they can not hide”.
Lets cross our fingers that Chan and Abrahano can emulate if not excel what Odi and those “hotshots” chiefs of police in Dagupan in the name of tranquility and progress “Today Pangasinan, Tomorrow a star ranked and a membership in the August Chamber,” I told Chan in the vernacular over a roasted giant cat fish, fried chicken, and Pineapple juice for him and Abrahano, and a glass of milk for me and Atong.
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org)