By Martin Sadongdong
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde was hailed as the Cavalier Awardee for Command and Administration, leading 11 awardees who were recognized during the annual Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alumni Homecoming held at Fort del Pilar in Baguio City Saturday.
A product of PMA Sinagtala Class of 1986, Albayalde’s accomplishments as a seasoned police official were highlighted by the PMA Alumni Association, Inc.
Albayalde was the recipient of a total of 58 awards and decorations which “bore witness to his outstanding performance in his assignments including a Gold Cross Medal, a PNP Outstanding Achievement Award and three PNP Heroism Medals among others.”
As the director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) in 2016, Albayalde implemented “practical” programs for crime prevention and suppression, an intensified campaign against criminality and illegal drugs, and a sustained internal cleansing of Metro Manila police’s ranks.
As a result, 81 percent of respondents in Metro Manila in a survey conducted by the Pulse Asia agreed they felt safer because of the campaign against criminality.
He eventually took over the reigns of the 190,000-strong PNP in April 2018, focusing on a program anchored in instilling to the cops discipline and respect for themselves and the public.
“Itong Cavalier Award ay ang pinakamataas na award na makakamtan ng isang PMA alumni. This is actually the most coveted award dahil hindi lahat ng graduate ng PMA ay nagkakaroon nito,” Albayalde told reporters.
“Kapag ikaw ay nabigyan nito, ang pride sa sarili mo at sa organization is there,” he added.
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, who is a former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a member of PMA Class of 1970, graced this year’s alumni homecoming as guest of honor and speaker.
Cimatu, also a Cavalier awardee, thanked the Cavalier awardees for their courage, integrity and loyalty which are the founding principles of every PMAers.
As a PMA alumni, he cited the learnings he gained as a military man in effecting changes in the DENR, especially in leading the rehabilitation of Boracay Island.
He then asked the Cavaliers and members of the PMA Alumni Association, Incorporated (PMAAAI) to help him in the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay.
He also emphasized how “political will,” which also mirrors President Duterte’s campaign slogan in the 2016 national elections, led him to where he is right now past the life of being a military man.
“The character building of every cadet is ingrained in the values of the academy which has not changed over the years,” Cimatu said.
Aside from Albayalde, 10 other PMA alumni were cited as Cavalier awardees by the PMAAAI.
They were Cavalier for Coast Guard Operations Ronnie Gil Gavan, of PMA Maalab Class of 1993; Cavalier for Special Operations Harold Nemeño, of PMA Masikhay Class of 1999; Cavalier for Naval Operations Gilbert Villareal Jr., of PMA Masinag Class of 1998; Cavalier for Police Operations Guillermo Eleazar, of PMA Hinirang Class of 1987; Cavalier for Army Operations Ramon Flores, of PMA Bantay Laya Class of 1994;
Cavalier for Air Operations Rolando Conrad Peña III, of PMA Kalasag Lahi Class of 1997; Cavalier for Alumni Affairs Leo Angelo Diel Leuterio, of PMA Maringal Class of 1988; Cavalier for Special Field Jesus Lomeda Jr., of PMA Mapitagan Class of 1980; Cavalier for Public Administration Fernando Mesa, of PMA Makabayan Class of 1975; and Cavalier for Private Enterprise Louie Ticman, of PMA Magilas Class of 1976.
Among the notable awardees were Cavalier Flores of Class 1984.
Flores has the distinction of the only Battalion Commander who was given the responsibility of leading two commanding battalions in two major military operations in a span of two years.
He was assigned as the commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 32nd Infantry (DAREDEVIL) Battalion, 11th Infantry Division (63IB, 11ID) tasked to operate against the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu; and the 63rd Infantry (INNOVATOR) Battalion, 8ID in the liberation of Marawi City against Maute terror group.
During the battle of Marawi in 2017, Flores was critically wounded while leading his unit in a fierce firefight while extricating troops in the last enemy stronghold.
For this feat, he was awarded the Order of Lapu Lapu (Kampilan) by President Duterte.
Another distinct awardee was NCRPO Director Eleazar, the Cavalier for Police Operations, whose career as a policeman turned a major elevation when he was appointed the director of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) in January 2016.
In July 2016, Eleazar was appointed as the district director of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) where he pushed a relentless campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.
By late 2017, a National Police Commission (Napolcom) survey showed QCPD was chosen as the Most Trusted Police District.
Eleazar then became the regional director of the Calabarzon Police Regional Office (PRO-4A) in April 2018.
Two months later, he was promoted as the regional director of the NCRPO, replacing Albayalde, who then became the PNP chief with ghe retirement of Ronald dela Rosa.
Since leading the NCRPO, the region experienced a 54 percent decrease in the index crime volume.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa bumubuo ng PMA Alumni Association, Inc. for bestowing me this prestigious award. Alam mo, itong Cavalier Award eh pinapangarap ng lahat ng graduate ng PMA so ito ay magsisilbi sa aking inspirasyon na on my remaining years in the service ay lalo ko pang papaigtingin at papagandahin ‘yong serbisyo,” Eleazar said.
Other top military and police officials who attended the alumni homecoming were PMAAAI Chairman Cavalier Jaime delos Santos, PMAAAI President Cavalier Rodolfo Sazurin Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, AFP Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto, commanding general of Philippine Army; Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez, commanding general of Philippine Air Force; and Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy, among others.
Also present were senatorial candidates Gary Alejano of Marilag Class of 1995, Ronald dela Rosa of Sinagtala Class of 1986, Jonathan Baldevarona of Sambisig Class of 1991, JV Ejercito, an adopted member of Maringal Class of 1988, and Ma Pag-asa Partylist representative Cezar Mancao, also of Sinagtala Class.
This year’s alumni homecoming recorded around 6,000 attendees, including 2,000 PMA alumni and their family.
The PMA Class of 1959 were cited as Diamond Jubilarians, the Class of 1969 were the Golden Jubilarians, and the Class of 1994 were the Silver Jubilarians.
Meanwhile, all the PMA Classes ending in 4 and 9 were the host class with the Class of 1989 as the lead host class.