Bulan, Sorsogon, November 18, 2009: A twenty-one gun salute and the rendition of the “Taps” bade farewell to one of Bulan’s most colorful police officers, SPO1 Johnson Sendon Gerola, 51 years old, as he was laid to rest at noon today at the Bulan Civil Cemetery.
It was a moving ceremony as his wife Betty, together with her children, received the Philippine flag handed to him by the officer of the honor guard that accompanied the cortege of the slain officer. Hundreds attended the interment. Bulan Mayor Helen C. De Castro was also in attendance.
SPO1 Gerola was killed in a landmine ambush believed to have been set up by members of the New People’s Army in Barangay Calomagon on November 9. He was the driver of an eight-man team from the 509th Police Provincial Mobile Group on a hot pursuit operation of an armed group that ransacked the house of a security personnel of Congressman Solis in Barangay J. P. Laurel. Three other policemen were killed, including Police Inspector Jerson De Leon, the Group Deputy Commander of the 509th. Four policemen were injured but escaped. One person believed a member of the ambushers was killed. He was later identified as Ka Alex, a resident of Barangay Carriedo in nearby Irosin Town..
Gerola earned the nickname, “The Legend Tiger” among his colleagues in the service because he had been part of many military encounters against the New People’s Army. He also survived attempts on his life having been in the NPA’s top order of battle. He was also a decorated officer. The 509th PPMG stationed in Bulan, where Officer Gerola was assigned, is involved in the anti-insurgency campaign of the Government.
During the funeral procession to the civil cemetery, people along the route stopped respectfully. Residents can be seen looking out from their windows and watching the procession pass by. Streamers at the Old Municipal Building declared “SPO1 Johnson S. Gerola, Bayani ng Bulan – Namatay sa Digmaan para Ipairal ang Kapayapaan”, Officer Gerola, Saludo Kami sa Imo!”, and “ Ungod an saimo pagserbisyo, maski buhay mo an sakripisyo”