BACK in the 1960s, there were two governments in the province of Cavite, according to one of the country’s strongest political dynasts Juanito “Johnny” Remulla who died of multiple-organ failure on Monday morning at the age of 81.
Remulla, father of prominent Cavite politicians Crispin, Gilbert and incumbent Cavite governor Jonvic, learned the ways of traditional Philippine politics from long-time Cavite kingpin Justiniano Montano, who was in provincial politics from 1935 to 1972.
“[In the 1960s], there were two governments in Cavite, one run by the Montanos, the other by Nardong Putik,” Remulla said in one interview in the 1990s. He was referring to the alias of notorious gangster Leonardo Manicio.
Remulla then said even soft drink delivery trucks paid “taxes” to the Nardong Putik gang which, according to one story, was supposedly co-opted by Montano to cow political opponents in exchange for a part in the substantial smuggling operations out of the American base in Sangley Point.
But in the late 1960s, Montano was a Liberal Party ally of former President Diosdado Macapagal and recently re-elected President Ferdinand Marcos of the Nacionalista Party was demanding substantial change.
In 1969, Remulla parted ways with Montano, who was still in control of the provincial capitol and much of the business from Sangley Point, which incidentally also involved American businessman Harry Stonehill.
When Nardong Putik executed two agents of the National Bureau of Investigation in 1971, he was tagged as the convenient agent of change.
In cooperation with his NP party-mate Marcos, Remulla had the NBI stage a raid, which included then NBI agent Epimaco Velasco, that ended in the killing of Nardong Putik on the Aguinaldo Highway, sensational news that resulted in urban legends.
But the Nardong Putik killing also deprived Montano of his muscle and cemented Remulla’s hold in Cavite politics and eventually became vice governor in 1972, upon Montano’s suspension.
When the new governor, Montano’s ally Dominador Camerino, died suddenly in 1979, Remulla took over the post, which he kept until 1986.
Throughout the 80s, he laid the ground for the industrialization of Cavite and was repeatedly re-elected by a political machinery that has been inherited by his sons, who have themselves amassed their own political capital.
In 1995, Remulla’s son Juanito Victor Jr. entered politics as a provincial board member. He would become vice governor in 1998. After three terms, he became governor in 2010.
In 2001, Jonvic’s brother Gilbert, a former reporter of television network ABS-CBN, was elected congressman and was again reelected in 2004. Also in 2004, his older brother Crispin, a favorite of then President Joseph Estrada, was also elected to Congress.
Jonvic, who is concurrent spokesman of Vice President Jejomar Binay, confirmed their father’s death on Monday and said the wake will be at Funeraria Sapinoso on Elises Street in Imus, Cavite until lunch time today (Tuesday).
Johnny’s remains will be transferred to the Cavite Provincial Capitol in Trece Martires City by 2 p.m. By Wednesday, a funeral Mass at the Imus Cathedral, Brgy. Poblacion in Imus, Jonvic said.