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“West To East”: “Flashback”

5 04 2011

This post is not about running but it is one way of explaining while I wanted to experience going back to places where I’ve been during my younger years by running. The following stories happened during the period from 1978-1980, three decades and some years ago!

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After serving three years in Mindanao since graduating from the Academy, I applied for a position which would bring me to be assigned in Metro Manila. A senior officer who held an important and sensitive position in Malacanang Palace was in need of young  and sports-minded officers who would be trained and pre-positioned as Regional Directors/Sports Coordinator with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (MYSD). It was then in the middle part of 1978. The plan was to expand MYSD to the different regions and develop sports in the grassroots level where each of us should be able to act as “catalyzers” in sports to the local government executives from the Provincial Governors down to the Municipal Mayors.

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I was then a newly graduate of a Special Intelligence Course and most of us from the class were the core members who were recruited to be trained and projected to the expanded MYSD at that time. The country was then in Martial Law and the President would like to develop a holistic approach in sports development by discovering potentials in the grassroots level through Sports Meets and Competitions in the Provincial Level and later bringing the best to the Regional Level Competitions. I was one of the selected 14 officers to undergo a management/supervisory training on this endeavour, one Officer to each of the 12 Regions and 2 Officers for the National Capital Region (NCR). I was chosen to be assigned for Region 1 covering the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Pangasinan, Benguet and Mountain Province. The Regional Office was supposed to be located in San Fernando, La Union. (Note: This program was never brought out to the media and known by the public)

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This challenging and gargantuan plan did not materialize. Instead, I was assigned as Intelligence Officer with a special task and had the power to send my reports direct to the President on all political, social, economical, and security matters that are happening in Region 1. I was also tasked to create and organize the different Civil Security Units (CSUs) in all the Regional, Provincial, and Municipal levels of governance to include Government-Controlled Corporations for the whole region. This task made me to travel a lot within the region, meet with local government leaders, conduct seminars and trainings, and “service” these organized CSUs on a regular basis.

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For one year and 6 months, I’ve been assigned in Pangasinan and had an office within the City Hall of Dagupan. This was the time that I went around the whole province of Pangasinan. The Bolinao-Alaminos-Sual-Bugallon-Mangatarem Route was a memorable road because it was where I was able to hone and became expert in driving any kind of light vehicle. My service vehicle then was a Ford Fiera which resembled as one of the service vehicles of the Department of Public Works & Highways. It was a good “cover” for me where people would identify me as an employee or supervisor of the DPWH inspecting those workers and roadside cleaners contracted by the said office. There were times that employees of the DPWH would hitch a ride during my trips within the different towns of Pangasinan.

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 Intelligence reports worth to be known by Malacanang Palace were the smuggling activities in Bolinao and Sual where ships would dock for awhile and drop some goods to the waiting local fishermen in smaller motorboats and bancas. Goods would range from motorcycles, electronics, textiles and canned goods. On the other hand, Sual, Bolinao, and Anda had been the usual pick-up points for smuggled bangus and shrimp fries to be transported to Taiwan’s fish pens. These areas which are considered as coves are favorite stop-over of ships plying from Indonesia to Taiwan & Japan during times of inclement weather. These places then were not guarded by our Coast Guard or the Philippine Navy. I spent some days and nights on these places observing on the things that were happening which were worth reporting.

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There were not much houses and structures along the roads in the Western Pangasinan. The Carlos Romulo Highway was always flooded and not passable to vehicles and buses during the rainy season. The security problem then within the interior barangays along this highway was cattle rustling. Although the place was considered as the birthplace of the CPP/NPA Movement, the insurgents were not active in Western  Pangasinan during the 80s. At that time, there were no tricycles on the road.

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I could still remember three (2) intelligence projects/cases which were brought to the attention of the President. These were the results of my intelligence operations in the province of Pangasinan. These were the activities of two separate groups of politicians and businessmen who were involved in the smuggling of bangus and shrimp fries out of the country and the smuggling out of the country of cured Virginia tobacco. I got the feedback from my “boss” then that these politicians and businessmen were called by the President to the Malacanang Palace and they were told to stop their illegal activities in Pangasinan (short of saying, they were “bawled-out” by the President)! The smuggling activities ceased to exist since their visit & “bawl out” session in the Palace!

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The other intelligence project was a result of a report I made about the PC Provincial Commander in Pangasinan as the “main operator” and “mastermind” of the Jueteng operations in the province. It was the first time within Region 1 that Jueteng was introduced in the late 70s. The Provincial Commander was so brave to introduce the illegal numbers’ game to the province as he thought he could be backed up by the mother of the President. The PC Officer had served as the Security and Escort Officer of the Mother of the President for so many years! However, after I sent my report of confirmation on the presence of jueteng in the province, the Provincial Commander was relieved from his position immediately. After a few months, the PC Officer retired from the service!

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Those were the days when the country was under Martial Law and the decision of the President was firm and decisive.

To be continued…

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