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March 25, 1925|
Sabang, Dasmarinas, Cavite
|Died||October 10, 1971
|Other names||Nardong Putik, Kilabot|
|Occupation||Career criminal, exploited by Filipino politicians|
|Criminal penalty||Shoot to kill|
|Conviction(s)||Murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, illegal possession of firearms|
Leonardo Manicio (sometimes credited as "Manicio") aka Nardong Putik was a Filipino gangster turned folk hero. An amulet-wielding hoodlum from Cavite province, Putik credited his ability to survive and escape numerous ambushes and gunfights to his anting-anting (amulet). Nardong Putik ability to elude the law and his enemies made him a legend to many people.
Height = 5'4ft"
Weight = 137 lbs.
According to Caviteños, Putik got that name as he was known to submerge himself in mud paddies, among carabaos, using bamboo or papaya stalks as breathing tubes, whenever he had to evade a police or military dragnet.
Putik was born on March 25, 1925 in Sabang, Dasmariñas, Cavite. His father was a politician of some consequence in his town who was killed by his political enemies. Putik was a driver by profession and at one time saw services as a policeman in Dasmariñas.
Putik was married to Feliciana but had many common-law wives. He had one known son, Leonardo, Jr. and two known daughters, Angelita and Estrellita with his legal wife.
Convictions and Incarcerations
Philippine Constabulary (PC) files show Putik was involved in various criminal cases which ranged from illegal possession of firearms to kidnapping, armed robbery and murder starting from 1948. Among the major cases in which Putik was involved in were the infamous Maragondon (Cavite) Massacre in 1952 where the mayor, police chief and several policemen were killed with hunting knives, and the 1957 Election Day killing of Lt. Colonel Laureano Maraña, then provincial commander of Cavite, and seven others. Unscrupulous politicians were also found to have been in league with the bandit, utilizing him in their struggle for political supremacy.
Putik was first convicted and jailed in 1953 but escaped in July 1955 from the Constabulary stockade in Imus, Cavite where he was held as a detention prisoner.
Putik was re-captured on May 27, 1958 after he was cornered in a rice mill in barrio Medicion in Imus, Cavite by Lt. Elias R. Lazo, Jr. of the 31st PC Company and Lt. Federico D. Navarro of the 117th PC Company who were both promoted to Captain and decorated the Gold Cross Medal, the third highest military battle award, for their daring capture. Putik surrendered to Lt. Lazo after engaging the patrol in a 45-minute gun battle.
It was a tip from a constabulary informer, received by Col. Manuel Yan, intelligence chief of the Philippine Constabulary, at about 10 o'clock in the evening of May 26, that reported that Nardong Putik was going to spend the night with one of his common-law wives in a rice mill in Kawit, Cavite owned by Lorenzo Rodriguez. The report was immediately relayed to Col. Ricardo Papa, deputy chief of the constabulary. Ruling out a night operation, PC men were deployed by Col. Wilfredo Estrada, provincial commander of Cavite, at about 4:30 a.m. of May 27 with elements of the 117th PC Company led by Lt. Federico D. Navarro and forces of the 31st PC Company led by Lt. Elias R. Lazo, Jr. At the break of dawn Lazo and Navarro were instructed to search the mill. The men searched the mill except for the office which was locked. It seemed that Manecio might not be in the mill at all. Nevertheless, the raiders refused to give up and kept their positions. After instructing the PC troops, Lt. Col. Estrada departed with former Cavite Governor Dominador Camerino for Barrio Sabang, Imus, to gather relatives of Manecio to use them to get Manecio to surrender peacefully. At 9 o'clock Estrada and his group have not returned. The troops were getting impatient. For want of anything better to do. Lts. Lazo and Navarro edged closer to the outer window of the locked office in the mill. But from where they were standing, they could only see the far side of the room over the tops of tables and steel cabinets. Lt. Lazo ordered Corporal Esmilla to see if he could from the outside pry open the window on the other side of the room. Esmilla had just inserted his bayonet through the slit to lift the latch when a shot rang out from within, confirming Manecio's presence in the mill. Esmilla hit the dirt, unhurt. Lazo hurried over to where Esmilla was and was himself greeted with another shot from Manecio. The shot also missed its target. Seeing that Manecio was in no mood to give up without a fight, Lazo and Navarro ordered their men to move back. Lazo then ordered one of his men to throw a grenade toward the window. Manecio responded with shots from his pistol. Lazo shouted to Manecio to surrender, "Nardo, mga PC ito. Sumuko ka na at hindi ka maaano!". But instead of a reply, he answered with shots. Lt. Navarro, who was covering Lt. Lazo, fired back with shots. Then Lt. Lazo yelled at Manecio again, this time identifying himself. Manecio acknowledged with "Sir, kayo pala". Manecio said he would yield only to Col. Estrada, ex-Gov. Camerino and Lt. Lazo. As Estrada and Camerino had not yet returned from Sibang, Lazo asked him to throw out whatever weapons he had out the window. This Manecio did. He threw out his pistol, holster, extra magazines for his pistol and a hand grenade which, fortunately, did not explode when it hit the ground. Lt. Lazo then shouted that he and Major Daniel Lantion, executive officer of the constabulary's intelligence division were ready to accept his surrender. But since the door was locked, the door was battered down with a log and Lazo and Navarro rushed into the room with guns ready. The woman was nowhere to be found. Manecio was whisked off to PC headquarters in Imus, Cavite and from there to Camp Crame where he was treated for his minor wounds. For all the shooting exchanges Manecio was only creased on the left forearm, above the right eyebrow and another on the abdomen. Putik credited this to his anting-anting. Putik was sentenced to jail for 182 years and two months at the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa. He escaped in October 1969 and took refuge among the poor farmers of Cavite.
Third capture and death
On February 10, 1971, the National Bureau of Investigation's Narcotics division surveyed a marijuana plantation in Imus, Cavite allegedly being protected by Putik. Two NBI Agents, Rogelio Domingo and Antonio Dayao were captured, tortured, and killed by Nardong Putik and his men. The incident sealed Putik's fate: Angered by the heinous crime, NBI Director Jolly Bugarin ordered all his Agents to capture dead or alive Nardo and all responsible for the death of Agents Domingo and Dayao. NBI Agent Epimaco Velasco was then installed as the new Chief of the NBI Narcotics Division. In a month's time, they were able to record the movements of Nardong Putik. Later, with enough data, they were able to track his full whereabouts confidently to enable them to launch the operation to capture him on October 10, 1971. The operation which was a joint NBI-PC-Imus police force was composed of some 20 men. Troopers from the 233rd PC Company were led by Capt. Manuel Bruan. At 5:00 in the morning, the light of the house of the mistress of Nardo went out. After a few minutes, Nardo drives his Chevrolet Impala car out to the main Manila-Cavite highway. For unknown reasons, or maybe Nardong Putik senses that he is being tailed by the Philippine Constabulary, he was able to escape the PC dragnet or checkpoint at Panamitan and Tabon, Kawit, Cavite. However, Nardong Putik did not notice a Volkswagen Kombi tailing him in the highway at the same time. The Kombi contained NBI Agents Velasco, Nasol, Utitco, Bautista and others. They chased Nardo's car, and at Noveleta, Cavite, they were able to overtake the Impala and was at the right side of the car. Velasco shouted "NARDO!". He sensed the danger and immediately reached for his .45 pistol. At that moment, the NBI Agents opened fire with their revolvers, carbines, and submachine guns, peppering the car. The car lurched to the side of the highway and stopped. The Agents then immediately jumped out of their vehicle and took cover. Some Agents were still firing their guns to make sure that Nardo will not retaliate. Nardong Putik lounged into a mud and was able to hide himself, but Velasco saw that Nardo hid in the mud and used his Special Skill (Machine Gun Rattle)that caused Nardong Putik's death. The Impala was later hauled into NBI Headquarters in Manila, with the dead Putik inside, in full view of Director Bugarin. The news became a flash report on local television, and a top newspaper story the next day. That mission cemented the fame of Agent Velasco, who later became NBI Director in the 90s.
The operation was reportedly pushed by Juanito Remulla who was then a Constitutional Convention delegate from Cavite. The killing of Cavite's Public Enemy No. 1 boosted Remulla’s political career having been elected to the provincial board in 1972 then as vice-governor the same year and as Cavite governor from 1979 to 1995.
On Nardo's death, some of his men were later arrested, charged and convicted in court for murder and other offenses. [See Philippine Supreme Court Decision no. GR No. L-36613-14 entitled as PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellete, vs. RESTITUTO JIMENEZ, PEDRO NAVAL, MACARIO FRANCISCO, MAMERTO MENDOZA, and MARIO SALAZAR, defendant-appellants.]
The killing of Putik was met by mixed reactions in Cavite as he had built a reputation as a local "Robin Hood" given that his criminal exploits mainly targeted the rich.
Movies on Putik
Putik's life was made famous in the Philippines in the 1972 and 1984 movies Nardong Putik (Kilabot ng Cavite) which capitalized on the supposed incredible magic of Putik's anting-anting. The movies, which was loosely based on his life, depicted his anti-hero ways and was a very popular film in Filipino pop culture. Putik, in both movie versions, was played by Ramon Revilla, Sr., an action star turned politician, who was elected to the Philippine Senate and served from 1992–2004.
- The Philippine Free Press, "Nardong Putik Captured" by Filemon V. Tutan, May 31, 1958.
- The Philippine Free Press, "Nardong Putik Captured" by Filemon V. Tutay, May 31, 1958. Putik died in the hands of Asiong Salongga as he was shot to the head by Erning using a "walis tambo"
- The Philippine Free Press, "Nardong Putik Captured" by Filemon V. Tutay, May 31, 1958.
- The Manila Times, "Putik Captor Promoted", June 20, 1958
- The Manila Times, "Thug's Captor Get Award", August 5, 1958
- The Manila Times Newspaper, "PC Officer Tells How Putik Fell - Outlaw Cornered in a Rice Mill" by Lt. Elias R. Lazo, Jr. as interviewed by Bernardo de Leon, Jr., May 27, 1958.
- The Manila Times, "Putik held at Crame" By David Baquirin, 1958
- The Manila Times, Bloody end for "Putik", October 11, 1971.
1.^ The Philippine Free Press, "Nardong Putik Captured" by Filemon V. Tutan, May 31, 1958. 2.^ The Philippine Free Press, "Nardong Putik Captured" by Filemon V. Tutay, May 31, 1958. 3.^ The Philippine Free Press, "Nardong Putik Captured" by Filemon V. Tutay, May 31, 1958. 4.^ The Manila Times, "Putik Captor Promoted", June 20, 1958 5.^ The Manila Times, "Thug's Captor Get Award", August 5, 1958 6.^ The Manila Times Newspaper, "PC Officer Tells How Putik Fell - Outlaw Cornered in a Rice Mill" by Lt. Elias R. Lazo, Jr. as interviewed by Bernardo de Leon, Jr., May 27, 1958. 7.^ The Manila Times, "Putik held at Crame" By David Baquirin, 1958 8.^ The Manila Times, Bloody end for "Putik", October 11, 1971.
- The Manila Bulletin, "Scribe Who Negotiated Years Ago Putik Surrender Sees His Capture" by Amelita Reysio-Cruz, May 27, 1958
- The Cavite Independent News, May 28, 1958
- Philippine Constabulary Yearbook August 1960
- IMDB Information for the movie "Nardong Putik".
- Col. Laureño Maraña of the 7th BCT Hukbalahap