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Profiles of the 2018 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos

Mrs. Mary Jane S. Ramo may have not come from the same bloodline, but her heart beats with passion for what could’ve been a forgotten culture of the Subanen tribe in Tudela, Misamis Occidental. She has focused her life’s work onto the promotion of indigenous peoples (IP) education, recognizing its significance not only to Subanen learners and the people in the community, but the country as a whole.

Dubbed as an ‘honorary Subanen’ of the said IP group largely settling along the rivers of the Zamboanga Peninsula, Mrs. Ramo is said to have been instrumental in bringing back the locals’ self-worth and adoration for their native culture. Back when the Subanen themselves stopped speaking Ginasalugan, the Subanen language, at home, Mrs. Ramo reintroduced indigenized learning resources to where she can implement and assert her innovations most: the school she is currently in charge of. Learners of Tonggo Elementary School were brought closer to their roots through the creation of a makeshift IP room which showcases traditional household objects and musical instruments. Nine Tabobong models or miniature Subanen houses were also built in the school grounds.

And within the walls of these Subanen havens, select students are trained by a tribal elder to play music, recite chants, and discover folklores, among others.

Subanen attire, woven and colorfully dyed mostly in black and red, are also mainstreamed in their regular school hours. Students and teachers wear indigenous clothing every Friday or when occasion with guests arises. Not only does Mrs. Ramo effectively integrates IP education in school premises, she also reaches out to parents through “Mama Ko, Papa Ko, Titser Ko”, a program which pushes for shared responsibility within the household, and encourages parents to take part in helping their children improve school performance especially in reading.

Through these strengthened platforms of presenting the culture in the school and community, most natives today speak the language and proudly showcase their customs and traditions not only during festivities and IP month celebrations, but in their everyday routine. Besides her proactive stance in ensuring that indigenous traditions are kept alive, Mrs. Ramo is known to be aggressive when it comes to environmental protection in her immediate community. She recognizes that in order to reinforce the values and principles of the IPs, one must take care of nature, which is an integral element of the Subanen culture. Her clean and green initiative, dubbed as the “Basura Ko, Tulubagon Ko”, was borne out of her desire to educate the growing Subanen population with little to zero knowledge on waste management. Students and residents would call her “Ma’am Cellophane” as she’s known to be vigilant in picking up trash wherever she’d go. Inspired by her example, residents have now become more disciplined in reducing their environmental impact.

Mrs. Ramo also encouraged the creation of a material recovery facility in the community from funding support of her friends and network in Manila and abroad.

This year, she is spearheading “Let’s Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”, which encourages each schoolchild to build their own eco-bricks. The gathered eco-bricks will then form the foundation of their recycled Christmas tree when December comes. Mrs. Ramo has consistently been receiving recognitions in the past three years: in 2016, as the Most Outstanding Teacher II in the Division of Misamis Occidental; in 2017, as the Most Outstanding Master Teacher II in Region X; and most recently, in 2018, as the Most Outstanding Public School Teacher in Region X, sponsored by the Rotary Club of West Cagayan De Oro in partnership with DepEd Region X. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, English, at Immaculate Conception College in Misamis Occidental and her Master of Arts in Education with specialization in Educational Management at Southern Mindanao Colleges Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur. Ms. Ramo is a devoted wife and a mother of two.

Dr. Alma S. Janagap could have been sipping her cup of coffee inside Iloilo’s Department of Education’s Regional Office. As a teacher for almost three decades, her service would have warranted her an administrative position of supervising schools and programs in large scale, but she chose otherwise.

She insisted on staying as an English teacher and a remedial adviser of the students of Pavia National High School, the only public high school in the municipality of Pavia. Being a teacher is a dream she has kept since elementary—and she’s determined to remain so for life.

Dr. Janagap was assigned in the Remedial Reading Program in 1997. She has since been holding reading sessions for Grades 7 and 8 students struggling with the regular academic load. Because of her efforts, the program was recognized as the Most Effective Remedial Reading in the province of Iloilo, and she earned the title Most Outstanding Remedial Reading Teacher in Iloilo in 2013.

Whilst implementing the program to generations of struggling high school students, Dr. Janagap furthered her advocacy by fostering a culture of reading inside the school. And so, in 2012, she developed a Reading Clinic, first of its kind in Region VI. The Reading Clinic is a one-room reading haven equipped with books and multimedia materials ranging from interactive videos, charts and games. The clinic provides a conducive, reader-centric environment for academically struggling students in hopes to improve not only their reading, but skills applicable in non-academic situations as well.

However, like most personal-led initiatives in a public school, Dr. Janagap’s Reading Clinic is not without its difficulties. Dr. Janagap started using a corner of her room to officiate the program—which would soon cannot accommodate the overwhelming number of students. Initially, she also shouldered the expenses for the acquisition of the books and even wrote some of the materials herself. Results were outstanding: 98 percent of the students who took the remedial classes moved up to Senior High School with ease and those who went to the clinic even became tutors themselves.

Dr. Janagap’s legacy through the Reading Clinic resulted to a zero dropout rate in Pavia National High School, which houses more than 5,000 learners every school year. The innovation eventually became a benchmarking model in the Division of Iloilo and has been replicated by 149 out of 179 schools.

In fact, she has helped facilitate trainings for more than 240 reading coordinators in Iloilo and encouraged them to put up their very own remedial reading programs.

And for more than two decades, her famous remedial classes have also extended through the immediate communities surrounding the school. Coming from a poor family herself, Dr. Janagap was well-aware of the growing literacy gap in the academic development of children in rural communities. And so, she conceptualized the “The Project Mind, Body and Soul” (MBS) to further her advocacy.

The MBS proactively promotes improvement in reading and writing skills, hygiene and nutritional needs, and building of spiritual character of beneficiaries translated in their day-to-day routine.

MBS stems from Dr. Janagap’s evaluation after personally visiting houses in the neighborhood to give a quick oral exam to graduating elementary students. The idea is to give children with low reading proficiency an advanced remedial class before entering secondary schools.

Beneficiaries accounted are around 2,000 elementary children together with their parents, most of whom are living in poverty. Outside her reading advocacy, Dr. Janagap actively promotes responsible parenthood and successful marriages among families through the conduct of seminars in the local parish. To date, around 300 couples and four thousand families have been served by this advocacy which started last 2012.

Dr. Janagap graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, Cum Laude, at West Visayas State University, Iloilo City. She earned her Master’s degree in Education and Doctor of Education degree with specialization in Educational Leadership and Management at the University of Visayas, Cebu. She earned the citations, Pambansang Ulirang Guro 2016 and the Most Outstanding School Paper Adviser of the Philippines. She is married and a mother of four.

Coming from a lineage of Science teachers, Dr. Aimee Marie C. Gragasin’s 24-year legacy in teaching physics and research goes beyond textbook lessons and classroom walls—quite literally, as she lets her students at the Philippine Science High School Cagayan Valley Campus (PSHS-CVC) immerse themselves in actual research and working contexts.

With a supportive administration, Dr. Gragasin was able to propose and implement an annual Summer Internship Program (SIP) back when she was Curriculum Instruction Services Division Chief in 2010. The program, which aims to give junior students a preview of the field, also became an immersive experience which exposes the interns to the realities and inner workings of science application in the country.

The students undergo a two-week internship program in various government and private institutions in Nueva Vizcaya, neighboring provinces, and as far Metro Manila—where established national institutions reside, such as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) and National Physics Institute at the University of the Philippines Diliman, among others.

Participating partners provide hands-on taskings, with the number of experts growing from seven to 20 institutions in the last decade.

Not only does SIP provide students a glimpse of their possible future as scientists, but early in this stage of their careers, they get to establish networks of field experts and potential colleagues from other schools and institutions.

Eight years after its inception, Dr. Gragasin’s SIP has since developed into a required activity integrated in the curriculum of PSHS-CVC. The program is also the first to send its students outside the region, opening up more choices for the students to explore and navigate.

Today, the SIP is adopted as a program for the whole PSHS system. The Department of Science and Technology has long been acknowledging the program for its promising contribution not only to the interns, but also for the local science institutions and its endeavors. It also fits well in the implementation of the K to 12 program, which requires workplace immersion for senior high school students.

Dr. Gragasin’s passion for teaching does not only benefit her students, but her co-faculty members as well. To inspire fellow teachers to strive better in their professions, she devised a year-round series of educational sessions which serves as an open venue for academic discourse. Through these sessions, young educators are given the platform to share their strategies and best practices as proven effective in their respective classes.

As a gender and development advocate, Dr. Gragasin organized activities for PSHS-CVC teachers and employees that heightened their awareness and involvement in gender-based activities and issues. She initiated school-wide activities such as career talks with female resource speakers who lead careers in male-dominated professions.

Dr. Gragasin earned her Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Physics, Cum Laude, and Masters of Science in Teaching Physics at Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City. She received her Doctoral Degree in Educational Management with dissertation distinction at Saint Mary’s University, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.

Originally teaching at the PSHS-Southern Mindanao Campus, Dr. Gragasin has proven that her passion for teaching knows no bounds. She transferred to PSHS-CVC when she married a math teacher from Nueva Vizcaya. They have a son interested in the arts.

As the only female Exploration Geophysicist with a Doctoral Degree in the country, Dr. Carla B. Dimalanta’s 25-year service comes with not merely academic prestige but an overwhelming desire to provide students with an appreciation of this highly technical branch of science.

A professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, her work delves in intensive information and education campaign to further mainstreaming of issues accounted in a specific community, majority of which are published internationally.

Significant research undertakings include the application of geophysical methods in identifying possible sources of groundwater for the coastal communities in Romblon in 2009; the assessment of landslide hazards in Mindoro in 2017; and just recently, the use of geophysics tools in investigating gold mineralization in the Masara Gold District in Eastern Mindanao.

Meanwhile, some of Dr. Dimalanta’s notable works are in coordination with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in carrying out ground penetrating radar surveys post Bohol earthquake in 2013; and the initial Law of the Sea initiative that looked at the geophysical data used to support the country’s claim to delineate its territorial boundaries.

Not only did her researches probe timely issues concerning localities, it also placed premium to providing answers to geoscientific problems in the Philippines, which is of global interest as well. Her publications—referenced by both international geoscientists and experts from other science branches—installed her name as one of the most highly cited scientists in the country.

But among a bountiful stretch of honors, Dr. Dimalanta takes most pride in her students’ achievements. She has mentored and advised 15 students towards the completion of their Masteral Degrees in geology. Five of her students are now pursuing their doctoral studies abroad, specializing in geophysics. Furthermore, several of her previous mentees are now her co-faculty at UP Diliman’s National Institute of Geological Sciences and UP Los Baños. They are mentoring students of their own, adopting the same work ethic and research culture that Dr. Dimalanta has instilled in them.

It has been a known fact that the Philippines, falling under the Pacific Ring of Fire, is naturally susceptible to disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions. Adding to these are growing studies in climate change and its devastating effects, which draws out alarming concerns for local communities.

Consuming this topic on a day-to-day basis as a teacher and researcher at the country’s premiere national university, Dr. Dimalanta hopes to provide concrete measures on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management for the Filipino people.

Today, her work on climate change and disaster risk reduction is integrated into UP’s General Education courses, such as in the Principles of Geology and in Global Studies: Cultures of Disaster—all taken by undergraduate students at UP Diliman.

Dr. Dimalanta is currently juggling her duties as a professor, researcher, and university administrator for academic affairs, but her passion to serve the people remains as strong as ever. She turned down higher paying opportunities and a chance to permanently reside in America simply because she has vowed to render her service to the community.

Dr. Dimalanta was conferred the University Scientist title in 2006, a title which she holds up to now. She was a Gawad Tsanselor sa Natatanging Guro awardee in 2010. She earned her undergraduate and masteral degrees in Geology at UP Diliman and received her Doctorate Degree in Earth and Planetary Science from the University of Tokyo, Japan.

In an ordnance service career that spans more than two decades, Lieutenant Colonel Francis A. Señoron is acutely aware of the inherent and expected risks he has to face. Danger, even death, could take place at a moment’s glance. Terrorists-laid improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are unstable by their very essence, and can detonate at the slightest touch.

Armed with goal to prevent and control these hazards, Lt. Col. Señoron has focused his career onto developing counter-explosive tools and conducting sector-specific trainings to various stakeholders. His efforts have made the overall process of bomb disposal and management more efficient and safer for his comrades and civilians in the line of fire.

In 2006, during his stint as a young Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion Intelligence Officer in Central Mindanao, Lt. Col. Señoron designed and constructed several specialized tools designed to counter IEDs. Among which are the Electric Blasting Galvanometer and the IED Disruptor—alternative devices he put together using readily available, locally sourced materials.

These counter-explosives are extremely expensive when procured from foreign countries—one blasting galvanometer alone commercially costs at least P200,000; while an IED disruptor costs around P850,000. Yet because of Lt. Col. Señoron’s ingenuity and background in electronics, he was able to devise the galvanometer and the disruptor with the same performance and function but is exponentially cheaper and more sustainable than their imported equivalents. His models of the galvanometer and the IED disruptor only costs P1,500 and P600, respectively.

The Philippine Army later decided to adopt Lt. Col. Señoron’s design and funded the mass production of the local blasting galvanometers and IED disruptors. Until today, these two revolutionary devices are being used by various EOD units nationwide. After the infamous Maguindanao Massacre on November 23, 2009, Lt. Col. Señoron and his men were instrumental in the detection, neutralization, and safe recovery of numerous assorted high-powered firearms, ammunitions, and other war materials of the Ampatuan Private Armed Group. The successful operations were crucial in dismantling the armed group and moving justice forward for the 57 victims of the massacre.

Knowing the threats of living in conflict zones and highly politicized environments, himself being deployed in one, Lt. Col. Señoron facilitated numerous capacity-building trainings and seminars on IED awareness and bomb threat management in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and North and South Cotabato. Hands-on exercises and scenarios involving actual explosive operations were conducted during these trainings. Well-attended by soldiers, authorities, and civilians alike, this series of trainings greatly helped in laymanizing the highly technical nature of the military’s bomb neutralization efforts.

In 2011, Lt. Col. Señoron was taken out of the Central Mindanao battlefield to be deployed as the EOD Battalion Operations Officer in the Army’s EOD Battalion Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Metro Manila. With his new capacity, Lt. Col. Señoron initiated the large scale disposal operations of unserviceable ammunitions in the Army warehouses. A total of 64,640 high explosive ammunitions and landmines were safely disposed, thereby eliminating the hazards it posed to Army personnel and civilians living close to the ammunition storage facilities.

Lt. Col. Señoron graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Management from the Philippine Military Academy in 2000; and earned his Master’s degree in Public Management from the Ateneo School of Government in 2016, graduating valedictorian of his class. His dissertation focused on assessing the implementation of safety policies and procedures of the Army’s EOD Battalion.

Lt. Col. Señoron has achieved much at 40 years old. He has received 51 Military Merit Medals for combat, non-combat, and administrative functions; 29 Bronze Cross Medals for counter-IED operations; 21 Military Commendation Medals for various achievements; an Outstanding Achievement award; One Gawad sa Kaunlaran; Two Sagisag ng Ulirang Kawal; 11 Anti-Dissidence and Campaign Medals; and 19 badges and plaques. Lt. Col. Señoron is married and has two kids.

During the five-month-long armed conflict in Marawi last year, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Ryan R. Seguin, a Philippine Air Force (PAF) fighter pilot, was among the dauntless few who directed aerial missions instrumental in scoring back victory against the Maute group.

In the face of overwhelming odds, Lt. Col. Seguin masterfully exemplified composure under fire—flying 134 out of the 156 total air-to-ground attack missions over Marawi’s main battle area. Given the limited number of pilots equipped for command, Lt. Col. Seguin had to steer these missions day and night, over bodies of water, despite the impending risks brought about by unfavorable winds and weather conditions, and limited air visibility due to nighttime darkness and ground fires. The missions marked a milestone in his 23-year career service, holding the most number of missions ever achieved by a pilot in the entire PAF history.

As the flight leader of these missions, Lt. Col. Seguin facilitated the rigorous planning, precise execution, and accurate delivery of air munitions on the predetermined targets. He ably dropped a total of 268 bombs over the battlefield, equivalent to 134,000 pounds of explosives.

The missions provided a strong close-air support for the ground troops to advance their positions and seize enemy strongholds—consequently leading to the neutralization of numerous local and foreign terrorists, including leaders of the long-standing Abu Sayyaf Group and the ISIS-inspired Maute Group.

Lt. Col. Seguin’s dedication in service manifests itself beyond his air fighting duties. As Squadron Commander of the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron under the PAF’s 5th Fighter Wing, he committed himself to teaching and training a new generation of PAF troops to become qualified pilots of fighter aircrafts. This was an urgent necessity given the apparent shortage of fighter pilots within the force, especially as many of whom already retired from their post or eventually got recruited by commercial aviation companies.

Determined to break this trend, he ensured to instill the values of nationalism and service in the curriculum of military aviation education. Lt. Col. Seguin provided educational enhancements by developing and implementing new training programs and preparing manuals for pilots-in-training. He also worked to provide flight simulation facilities and programs to improve the knowledge, flexibility, and productivity of aviation students.

His efforts to enhance and intensify pilot training resulted to a total of 25 combat and mission ready pilots in PAF’s 5th Fighter Wing. This benefited not only the careers of these pilots as they progressed in the qualification ladder, but also the operational readiness of PAF—having significantly augmented their current roster of professionally trained pilots responsive to air operations for national defense.

Outside his usual duty, Lt. Col. Seguin spearheaded the planning and implementation of the Adopt-a-Barangay program for the Aeta community of Barangay Nabuclod in Floridablanca, Pampanga. Under this program, various community development projects have been conducted to address the pressing needs of the Aeta residents in the barangay. Among which are the supplication of a potable water system, medical and dental services, feeding programs, donation of goods, tree planting activities, and the occasional children’s parties and storytelling activities.

What sets Lt. Col. Seguin’s program apart from similar civil-military operations is the continuous monitoring and visitation of their team in the barangay. The program started its rollout in 2013 and is still going on until today. In so doing, their team was able to forge a closer relationship with the Aeta community, who used to harbor cynicism due to previous conflicts with the military but has since regained back their trust.

The regular visitations were also instrumental in securing community safety. The area was once notorious for rebel movements; but since the program started, there has been no incidence of communist sightings or encounters in the area. Lt. Col. Seguin is a graduate of Philippine Marine Academy Class of 1999, ranking 4th among his batch. In 2010, he earned his Master’s degree in Public Management from the Asian Institute of Management. He is married and has two kids.

Cooperation, not competition, must prevail in the quest for true and lasting peace. This is the guiding principle that has steered Lieutenant Colonel Danilo T. Facundo—a Marine Corps officer for 24 years—to champion initiatives that uphold diversity and equal opportunity within the military and among the communities he has vowed to serve.

During his stint as the Commanding Officer of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 4 (MBLT4) in Northern and Southern Palawan, Lt. Col. Facundo led various cooperation-driven inter-agency interventions to combat widespread insurgency and terrorism in the province. By so doing, he and his men were able to secure zero kidnapping and zero terrorism related activities in Palawan in the entire duration of his term.

Lt. Col. Facundo conceptualized and facilitated the creation of the Sustained Multi-Agency Assistance in Resorts and other Tourist Areas (SMART-MARINES) and the Joint Inter-Agency Task Unit Brooke’s Point, Batazara, Rizal, and Balabac (JIATU-BBRB), which dictated the operational tempo of all their counter-insurgency campaigns. These two multi-agency groups—composed of members from the military, local government units, and the private sector—provided a holistic and inclusive measure to secure the well-being of Palaweños and instill among various stakeholders that they all share a responsibility to stop terrorism. Equally important, the SMART-MARINES and JIATU-BBRB strengthened the information sharing protocol of the military with local authorities and business officials in the province.

The several strategic meetings, planning sessions, and specialized trainings conducted under the SMART-MARINES and the JIATU-BBRB were instrumental in the takeover of four enemy camps of the New People’s Army; recovery of 35 firearms and various subversive documents and war materials; and the voluntary surrender of 11 former rebels.

Consequently, the neutralization of communists and other criminal groups contributed greatly to the development of the province’s economy—evidenced by the influx of tourists and increasing number of investors and businesses since these multi-agency groups were established.

Aside from fortifying close-knit collaborations among key stakeholders, Lt. Col. Facundo strongly advocated for the advancement of the interests of indigenous peoples (IP) and youth sector in Palawan. He acknowledged that these sectors are often subject to societal segregation and lack of education, hence making them easy targets of harassment and extortion of the NPA.

As such, Lt. Col. Facundo persistently brought his troops and some representatives from the local government to the IP communities in remote areas to deliver basic social services, such as medical and dental missions, and distribution of educational materials to children. Their team also led the conduct of Tribal Olympics, Lakbay Aral (field trips), and leadership summits to inculcate the principle of culture-based patriotism among the youth.

These regular community visits gave the IP populace an opportune time to convey their needs and concerns, which accordingly resolved the service and communication gaps between them and their local authorities.

On an administrative level, Lt. Col. Facundo challenged existing norms within the Marines by initiating programs on bottom-up leadership and gender mainstreaming. A staunch advocate of decentralized decision-making within the military, he introduced leadership programs for junior officers and non-commissioned personnel, particularly among the Marines’ tactical units at the grassroots.

Lt. Col. Facundo also led enhanced gender and development programs in the battalion, in which female Marines were empowered to lead the conduct of community engagement programs and command rifle companies in the frontlines. Outside military ranks, he facilitated gender sensitivity training workshops for various community stakeholders.

Lt. Col. Facundo is a graduate of Philippine Marine Academy Class of 1998, ranking first in the Marine Platoon Commanders Course; and a graduate of Joint and Combined Warfighting Course at Joint Force Staff College in Virginia, USA, where he received the Distinguished Joint Planner award. He is married and has three kids.

Senior Police Officer 1 Aida L. Awitin was set to dedicate her life’s work to being a teacher. In 2005, she was teaching at a small-town elementary school in Davao del Sur when the calling to serve as a police officer suddenly struck her. Lo, it was an epiphany she was fated to pursue.

A daughter of two retired police officers, SPO1 Awitin has since been in the police service for 12 years. For the majority of her career, she has worked as an investigator of the Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD) of various units in the Davao Region. Her being a licensed teacher and a mother proved to be advantageous in this capacity. She harnessed her teaching background and inherent maternal compassion in handling sensitive cases of violence and abuse against women and children.

A staunch advocate of police-community relations, SPO1 Awitin was the moving force behind the institutionalization of the Lingap Mamamayan program (loosely translated as “Care for the People”) in the rebel-tagged municipality of Malita, Davao Occidental. Lingap Mamamayan is a community-based, anti-criminality, counterinsurgency initiative implemented mostly in Malita’s far-flung communities, which do not usually receive basic social services and are susceptible to crime incidences and infiltration by communist rebels.

Through Lingap Mamamayan, the delivery of social services to underprivileged communities became more efficient. Poor families living in mountainous areas far off the city center were provided with life’s basics, such as daily food items, personal hygiene kits, school materials for children, and medical and dental services.

SPO1 Awitin tapped the support of key government institutions and private organizations to sustain the funding and expansion requisites of the program. These regular community visits positively impacted local community welfare, resulting to improved public service processes and community policing in the area.

The program also became the springboard for Akyat Aral (loosely translated as “Education in the Mountains”) which aimed to provide basic literacy lessons for out-of-school youth and unschooled adults in the community. Akyat Aral also served as a platform for information dissemination on crime-related policies and counterinsurgency strategies already in place.

By incorporating these information campaigns and sensitization sessions, community members have now become aware of their rights and responsibilities as law-abiding citizens. The same communities have also initiated their own version of Alsa Masa (Masses Arise)—borrowing from the concept of the anti-communist vigilante group with the same name that started in the 1980s in Davao City. The local Alsa Masa has allowed citizens to be more involved in eliminating drugs and crime by helping the police gather intelligence and information at the grassroots level.

Because of these concerted efforts, a total of 128 former New People’s Army rebels have voluntarily surrendered to the police. A majority of the surrenderees are relatives of the said Alsa Masa group. They were the ones who persuaded their NPA-indoctrinated family members to turn a new leaf through recovery and rehabilitation activities.

Recognizing the importance of engaging the youth in crime prevention and solution, SPO1 Awitin established the Junior Police (J-Police) program in 2017. In its pilot run, the J-Police assembled 112 high school students from 6 schools to serve as the young counterparts of police officers in their respective barangays.

By recruiting high-performing students alongside those with disruptive and problematic behaviors, the program was able to create a platform for these groups to resolve their differences and work together instead. Organizing them into J-Police proved to be a good strategy as their actions instantaneously cascaded to their circles of influence, thus creating a ripple effect.

Barely a year since its implementation, the J-Police program has contributed to the marked decrease of dropout rates, crime incidences, and other forms of disturbances in schools and contiguous communities. It has also positively affected behavioral changes among the students, who have since gained better appreciation of law enforcement work.

SPO1 Awitin graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the Cor Jesu College in Digos City, Davao del Sur. She is married and has two kids.

In today’s modern age where new technologies and gadgets abound, Police Senior Inspector Dennis S. Ebsolo chooses to preserve an old-fashioned policing technique: the heritage of mounted patrol, or simply, cops on a horse.

During his stint as the station commander of Cagayan de Oro-Police Station 8 (CDO-PS8) in 2015, PSInsp. Ebsolo initiated the use of horses in patrolling the 12 hinterland barangays covered by his station. With a total land area of about 12 thousand hectares, these barangays are composed mostly of uphill regions, marshlands, farms, and untouched rainforests which could not be accessed by automobiles. Roughly 80 percent of the residents living in the barangays are disadvantaged lumads (indigenous peoples from various tribes). The mounted horse patrol hence became the solution to fix the issue of access to these barangays.

PSInsp. Ebsolo sought stakeholder support and approval through the conduct of both formal and informal meetings with key local authorities and civil service leaders. He also pitched the idea to revered businessmen and high society families in Cagayan de Oro, who supported him primarily by giving financial provision necessary in the acquisition of the horses.

The regular implementation of the mounted horse patrol paved the way for successful police operations thereafter. It was instrumental in the arrest of a total of 75 suspects of robbery and murder cases, several of whom had been in Cagayan de Oro’s most wanted persons list for a long time. It also led to the crackdown of illicit activities such as illegal mining and illegal logging operations; and the suppression of ridos (tribal wars) and other local conflicts in the area.

Under PSInsp. Ebsolo’s competent direction, CDO-PS8 accomplished the most number of buy-bust operations and identified drug personalities in the police station’s history. He and his troops were able to capture a total of 83 drug offenders—including elusive high-profile targets involved in the large-scale drug trade within the province—and seized millions worth of illegal drugs, high powered firearms, and various explosives.

By tirelessly patrolling the barangays day in and day out, PSInsp. Ebsolo and his personnel were able to forge close community relationships and gain the buy-in of the residents. Witnessing PSInsp. Ebsolo’s dedication to his work enabled the residents to be empowered and regain their respect and confidence in the police and the government, which was a remarkable turnaround given the tattered reputation of the police before PSInsp. Ebsolo’s administration.

PSInsp. Ebsolo would even go as far as giving out his personal number to barangays officials, teachers, business owners, and church leaders—encouraging them to reach him whenever there is an emergency, big or small, in their respective barangays. This led to the mobilization of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team and the Barangay Intelligence Network—civilian-led action groups which served to file reports, provide information about crime in their neighborhoods, and work with the police to devise solutions to persisting peace and order problems.

Notwithstanding these law enforcement operations, PSInsp. Ebsolo spearheaded the Suroy Bata (loosely translated as “Fieldtrip for the Children”) in his areas of jurisdiction since 2015. Through the Suroy Bata, the entire police force treats the children—coming from lumad families and marginalized communities in the hinterlands—to a day of learning and enjoyment by touring them to places in the Cagayan de Oro metropolis, and letting them gain social experiences such as eating fast-food meals, playing on parks and playgrounds, and watching movies for the first time.

PSInsp. Ebsolo plans to replicate the use of horses in patrolling the areas covered by his current station in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. He obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Criminology from the Cagayan de Oro College; and his Doctorate degree in Criminology from the Philippine College in Criminology, where he received a Meritissumus Award for his dissertation. He serves as a part-time instructor to BS Criminology students in different colleges and universities in the city during his off-duty hours. PSInsp. Ebsolo is married and has three kids.

When one thinks of an effective police officer, the image that comes to mind is that of a proactive cop in the operational frontlines, arresting the most notorious of criminals or dismantling the most number of illicit deeds. Often downplayed though is the police officer in the administrative division: a policymaker, a financial manager, an internal game-changer.

In his 28-year career experience in police service, Police Senior Superintendent Pascual G. Muñoz, Jr. has proven himself exceptional in all these capacities and more.

When PSSupt. Muñoz assumed his post in 2012 as the Provincial Director of the Laguna Provincial Police Office (LPPO), the magnitude of the drug trade and proliferation of organized crime groups in the province led him to conceptualize new operational strategies to curtail the problem. Intelligence operations were intensified and close collaborations with local government officials and sectoral leaders in the community were set in place.

This multi-sectoral, service-centric approach to widespread criminality resulted to the arrest of 153 drug offenders, and the dismantling of seven shabu tiangge (drug dens) in Biñan City, San Pedro City, San Pablo City, Santa Cruz, and Lumban. Several organized crime groups that had been undertaking extensive, illicit activities for a long time were finally neutralized, which include the notorious Balba Robbery Hold-up Group, Mayon Robbery Hold-up Group, and the Dela Cruz Carnapping Group, among others.

Under PSSupt. Muñoz’s watch, the province of Laguna has seen marked improvements in environmental protection through the adoption of Operation Plan BERDE (Boost our Environment Reserves for the Development of our Ecosystem). Oplan BERDE was formed to stop rampant illegal logging activities and large-scale deforestation in the 1,300 hectares of public forestland in Laguna.

PSSupt. Muñoz introduced new strategies, such as technological mapping through Google Earth and the use of helicopters for air reconnaissance and air-to-ground operations, to instigate aerial surveillance of hotspot areas and the eventual search and apprehension of ground targets. He pushed for continuous coordination between all concerned institutions—including the provincial chapter of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine Army’s 202nd Brigade—to apprehend violators and implement a concrete environmental protection and forest preservation plan for Laguna.

Aside from successfully neutralizing illicit operations and confiscating thousands worth of lumbers, Oplan BERDE contributed to the prevention of soil erosion and flood occurrences, thus alleviating its once-disastrous effects to the townsfolk.

As a response to gruesome crime incidences within the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), PSSupt. Muñoz initiated the community-wide “UPLB Ko, Bantay Ko” program. It was a monumental stride that institutionalized the safety and security measures of the campus, which covers 5,445 hectares of land encompassing the entire Makiling Forest Reserve and surrounding areas.

In 2017, when PSSupt. Muñoz was lifted out of frontline duty to serve in the Camp Crame Headquarters, he did not falter in blazing trails towards the improvement of police services. He knew that though the capacity was different, the end goal to “serve and protect” remained the same.

As the Head Secretariat of the Procurement Management Committee, PSSupt. Muñoz formulated policies streamlining service procedures for retirees and two support programs for a more expedient procurement of goods within the force.

The changes he implemented in the clearance issuance system of retirees—which include reducing the number of requisite documents and signatories, assigning of clearance officers, and designation of dedicated email addresses for all units—made the entire process more efficient and transparent.

PSSupt. Muñoz also formulated circulars to resolve procurement issues characterized by intense red tape and corruption. With new regulations on inspection and imbursement processes in place, the delivery and payment of procured goods has never been more optimal than ever. It led to the acquisition of 10 billion worth of police equipment, thus enhancing the overall arm capability of all units and troops nationwide.

Nearing retirement in three years, PSSupt. Muñoz graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1990; earned his Master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Assumption in Pampanga in 1999, and was conferred with a Doctorate degree in Peace and Security Administration at the Bicol University in 2009. He is married and has two kids.

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