Jose T. Almonte
|Jose T. Almonte
|Nickname(s)||Joe, JoAl, JoeAl|
November 27, 1931 |
Albay, Philippine Islands
|Allegiance||Republic of the Philippines|
|Years of service||1956-1986|
|Unit||Presidential Security Agency
Philippine Civic Action Group (PHILCAGV)
|Commands held||Armed Forces of the Philippines|
Insurgency in the Philippines
|Awards||Distinguished Conduct Star|
|Other work||Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau (EIIB)
National Intelligence Coordinating Agency
National Security Advisor
Jose T. Almonte was the former National Security Advisor and Director-General of the National Security Council in the Cabinet of Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos. He was also the head of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the Director Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau (EIIB) during the administration of Pres. Corazon Aquino.
Jose Almonte was born on November 27, 1931, in the province of Albay.
Military and political career
Jose Almonte entered the Philippine Military Academy as plebe on April 1, 1952, finishing with the Class of '56.
As a young Lieutenant, he was assigned in Gitingan in the mountains of Laguna and Quezon provinces during the waning days of the HUKBALAHAP. A neighboring unit then was commanded by Korean War veteran Capt. Fidel Ramos, and it was here where Lt. Almonte forged a lifelong friendship with Capt. Ramos, who later became the President of the Philippines.
Almonte testifies that this was his only "field command" as he was confronted by his own troops about field mismanagement, that was led to a formal complaint up to the Company level. Instead of being court-martialed for command responsibility as he requested, Almonte was sent to Fort McKinley to go through a Combat Intelligence course. He testifies that this incident has made a profound impact on his idealism on soldiery and opened his "eyes to the realities and consequences of military mismanagement in the field."
Under pressure from the American government, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos wielded support of its campaign in the Vietnam War. Capt. Almonte was assigned in a three-man advance party along with Maj. Fidel Ramos to lay down the ground work for the arrival of the Philippine Civic Action Group (PHILCAGV).
Capt. Almonte acted as the Intelligence Officer for PHILCAGV. And, in this capacity, without escaping controversy and the ire of the American intelligence community in Vietnam, Capt. Almonte was able to successfully contact his counterparts in the National Liberation Front, or commonly known as the Viet Cong. This later on built Capt. Almonte's reputation as a deep-penetration agent, and one whose exploits is nothing less than "shadowy, sneaky, mysterious and enigmatic."
Building good relations with the local Viet Cong commander in the Tay Ninh Province, in the southwestern part of South Vietnam, he assured them that the PHILCAGV was in their country to help build and provide civic services and not conduct combat operations. Unlike the South Korean contingent, PHILCAGV was able to keep its casualties down. Instead of the usual one-year assignment, Capt. Almonte rotated three years in Vietnam with the PHILCAGV. For his gallantry in Vietnam from 1967–1969, he was awarded by Pres. Marcos the Distinguished Conduct Star.
Upon return to the Philippines, he was once more assigned to work in Malacañan Palace as Aide-de-camp to Executive Secretary Alejandro Melchor, Jr.. It was during this career season that Maj. Almonte along with Sec. Melchor was able to establish the diplomatic ties between the Philippines and the USSR through the help of Prof. Ajit Singh Rye of the Institute of Asian Studies in the University of the Philippines.
It was through Prof. Rye that Sec. Melchor and Maj. Almonte was able to pave way for an endorsement to Indira Gandhi for a dialogue with Moscow. This was the plan as the Philippines then was considered as the United States' strongest ally in Southeast Asia, and a reliable partner during the Cold War. However, the government of Pres. Marcos saw that the US was going to lose in Vietnam, and thus the need to establish ties with the "enemy."
With one visit to New Delhi in 1975, Maj. Almonte met with the Ambassador of the USSR, which no sooner led to a flight by Sec. Melchor and Maj. Almonte to Moscow where they were received as state guest. By 1976, the Philippines and the Soviet Union formally established diplomatic relations.
Considered as one of the level-headed thinkers and strategist in the AFP, Col. Almonte was approached by the leaders of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) during its infancy, to seek counsel and have him take as an advisor to the group. Almonte worked with Lt. Col. Victor Batac in formulating long-term strategies of the group, leading him to be considered as the "Godfather of the RAM".
Almonte retired from the Armed Forces in 1986 with a rank of Major General.
Right after his retirement, Pres. Cory Aquino called on Almonte to take charge of Operation Big Bird, the government's efforts in recovering the hidden wealth of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos in Switzerland and other offshore banking areas. When the Operation Big Bird was wrapped up by the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG), Almonte was tasked by Pres. Cory Aquino to head the EEIB.
In 1995 the Polytechnic University of the Philippines awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Public Administration.
'Lies' in Almonte memoir
On February 25, 2015, Almonte launched a book entitled "Endless Journey: A Memoir" as told to veteran journalist Marites Dañguilan-Vitug.
"With particular respect to his dealings with and role in the activities of the RAM, Almonte has flatly concocted events that never happened..." Honasan said in an article he co-authored with fellow RAM members Felix Turingan and Rex Robles.
"The reply by Honasan, as quoted in the book, that we were simply asking for 'moral support' from the US government sounds artificial and asinine," the RAM leaders wrote in their article published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Awards & Citations
- Toward one Southeast Asia : collected speeches; Quezon City : Institute for Strategic and Development Studies, 2004. xvi, 318 p. : port. ; 23 cm. ISBN 971891613X
- My part in the 1986 people power revolution; Quezon City : Institute for Strategic and Development Studies, 2006. 80 p. : facsims ; 19 cm.
- We Must Level the Playing Field; Metro Manila, Philippines : Foundation for Economic Freedom, 2007. xvi, 273 p. ; 26 cm. ISBN 9789718310014
- The political education of General Jose Almonte
- Gen. Jose Almonte: What I Did in the 1986 People Power Revolution; Philippine Daily Inquirer February 2006
- Putting Our House in Order
- Soul of the Ramos presidency
- The unseen Indian hand in Manila's Moscow diplomacy, Nerve; 21 August 2006
- Victor Corpus and Jose Almonte: The righteous spies
- Day One