“Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.” –Hannah Arendt
Retired Senior Police Officer 2 Ronald ‘Apple’ Alag was one of three rookie cops known in Iloilo City as “small, but terrible” during the 1980s, the heyday for former Metrodistrict Police Command (Metrodiscom) chief, Colonel Achilles Plagata.
“Si Apple, masaligan ko gid ina; maboot ina nga pulis (I have trust in Apple; he is a good cop),” the late police chief told members of the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps.
The reaction came about after Alag’s name flooded headlines when he was nearly shot by fellow police officer, Douglas Demonteverde, with an ArmaLite rifle inside the Arevalo Police Precinct in 1996 (it was the first instance of controversy tied to Alag’s name).
Alag, who was Arevalo Police Precinct desk sergeant at the time, confronted Demonteverde on a number of infractions, including tardiness. The latter, who did not appreciate the admonition, took aim at the desk sergeant and yelled in the local dialect: “So what if you are an Alag? I am not afraid to shoot you right now!”
Following the situation, Alag told reporters, “This is now my second life.” He explained why he did not fight back, noting, “I was armed only with a .38 caliber.”
In addition, rookie cops Ricky Thornton and Nathaniel Ore were also referred to as “small, but terrible” because of their physical frame and effectiveness in hunting down snatchers, thieves, and other criminals. They could be mistaken for civilians and teenagers, which made it easier for them to round up some of the city’s most notorious criminals.
Apple, Thornton, Ore, Ashley Agustin, and Danilo Tan were five of the finest and best cops to serve under Plagata, who conducted excellent work for the Metrodiscom; known today as the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO). They abilities saw criminality in the city fall to its lowest levels in those years and Alag became known as the “the apple of the eyes” to family, colleagues, some reporters, and even some criminals.
I first heard Alag’s name in 1996, when he was one of two police officers linked to the late Police Superintendent Mosa ‘Batman’ Amiyong. Alag and Rex Egpuara, a former bodyguard of slain Bombo Radyo anchor Rino Arcones, reportedly “worked” for Amiyong, who, at the time, was suspected of “facilitating” the entry of illegal drugs into Iloilo; however, there was no evidence directly linking the two to the alleged illegal activity.
Before the slain Melvin ‘Boyet’ Odicta, Sr. ruled the illegal drug trade in the Western Visayas, then-Metrodiscom chief, Colonel Vicente Neptuno, used K9 units in a raid at the Jereos Extension, in Iloilo City’s La Paz district, to nab suspected drug dealer Bolane Daquiado, nephew of the late Nilo ‘Taklong’ Soliva, former mayor of Remedios T. Romualdez, Agusan del Norte.
While writing for Sun.Star Iloilo, I heard Alag’s name again, but there was no evidence linking him with Daquiado’s group.
Reporters covering the crime beat, fellow law enforcement officials, and family members all referred to the police officer as “maboot, maalwan, maamigohon kag mapisan (a good-natured person, generous, friendly, and diligent).” However, when he retired from the Philippine National Police in 2005, he went on to work as Odicta’s “bodyguard.” The former police officer “sidelined” as a security guard at Odicta’s pawnshop in Maria Clara, in Iloilo City’s City Proper district, but was also “actively involved in Odicta’s illegal drug trade,” serving as a “protector.”
Despite there being no evidence Alag sold illegal drugs after Odicta and his wife were killed two years ago, the Police Regional Office-6 confirmed he was on an illegal drugs watch list.
Last Monday, while driving a white van in the area where he grew up, Barangay Villa Anita in the City Proper district, Alag was murdered by two riding-in-tandem assailants – all of it was captured on surveillance cameras. The attackers appeared determined to finish him off as they were not afraid to go after the former police officer in the barangay where his brother, former firefighter Ondoy, serves as barangay captain.
Of the three Alags to serve in law enforcement, Apple was considered the “most well-loved and admired” by friends and neighbors. His two older brothers Alfonso and Celoy, both former Philippine Constabulary officers, were knows as “astigs (tough guys)” who “didn’t have mercy for the criminals.”
ICPO inmates also reportedly “liked” Apple because “he didn’t harm them physically” and “shared some of his ‘blessings’ to them.”/WDJ