Maganto laid to rest beside wife’s grave in Bulacan
BUSTOS, BULACAN — The crimebuster, portrayed in films by actors like detained Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., was laid to rest beside the grave of his wife on Sunday afternoon.
Retired police general Romeo Maganto, whose colorful career made him a celebrity, was given full military honors at the Barangay San Pedro public cemetery where retired school principal Nenita Evangelista Maganto and their son Romeo Maganto Jr. are buried.
Mrs. Maganto died in 2010, while the general’s son died of ailment in 2004 at the age of 32.
Maganto, 70, was also ill when he passed away at a hospital in Pandi town on June 16.
Rommel, Maganto’s other son, said he and his two sisters, Mary Anne Maganto-Bernardo, 47, and Michelle, 38, decided against burying their father at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio.
Senior Supt. Chito Bersaluna, Bulacan police director, led the funeral ceremonies, alongside hundreds of Maganto’s former police colleagues and friends.
“Daddy was so dedicated. He really was a hero. We barely saw him at home. He spent half of his life in public service. Our family came second, but we are not angry, we are grateful and thankful he was our parent,” Rommel said during his father’s wake on Saturday.
Maganto, the eldest of eight, was born in South Cotabato on March 30, 1948. His father was a veteran soldier while his mother managed the household.
Maganto’s height made him prey to bullying in grade school. His father told him not to cry and dared him to get his gun and go after his abusive classmates. Bullying convinced him to master karate, said Maganto’s daughter Mary Anne.
Maganto studied high school at the Gen. Paulino Santos Memorial Institute in Tupi town in 1965 and graduated from the Philippine College of Criminology (PCCR) in 1969.
He worked briefly as a soda drink salesman and an ice cream maker before he married Nenita. They moved to Bustos in the early 1970s when he was appointed the chief of police by his friend, Mayor Thelma Garcia-Santos, who succeeded her husband, Mayor Alexis Santos, who he was killed in an ambush.
Esther Rubico Ariola, 70, recalled how Maganto solved the problem of rampant cattle rustling here. Roy Reyes, publisher of the local weekly, Bulacan News Catcher, said he was a young reporter when Maganto was wounded in an ambush in what is now the City of San Jose del Monte.
Maganto soon drew media attention at the Western Police District as chief of Presinto “Uno” and “Singko.” After he arrested fugitive Rolito Go, Maganto was assigned to head the Southern Police District Command.
Maganto was shot in the leg during a coup plot against the late president Corazon Aquino. He failed to win the Bulacan gubernatorial race in 2004. He received about 500 awards and medals, both locally and internationally. “In one survey, he came out as the most liked police officer of all time,” Ariola claimed.
Bustos Mayor Arnel Mendoza said Maganto continued to serve until the last days of his life. In 2016, the general founded Task Force Crusaders, an advocacy group against crime, corruption, and terrorism.
Maganto’s life story was filmed five times and became blockbusters, Rommel recalled. “Lt. Maganto” was portrayed by action star Ace Vergel while “Captain Maganto” was played by actor Ronnie Ricketts. The movie, “Maganto, Leon ng Maynila,” starred Senator Revilla. “The Legends: Tomagan” had actor Jestoni Alarcon playing the bemedalled policeman.
Rommel said a new movie project about Maganto’s life, “The Untold Story of Gen. Maganto,” is in the works when his father passed away. “It was something being worked out when Daddy fell ill. It won’t happen now. But we hope someday someone will pick up this project,” he said. /ee
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