MANILA, Philippines – Legendary police intelligence officer Rodolfo "Boogie" Mendoza Jr, one of the Philippines' best spies against communist guerrillas who also helped uncover the first international terrorist network here, died of a heart attack on Wednesday, March 28, in his home province of Pangasinan, friends and former colleagues in the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.
He was 64. Mendoza died on the eve of the founding anniversary of the communist New People's Army, the rebel army that he fought in his entire career as an intelligence officer. (READ: Boogie Mendoza: The consummate anti-communist spy)
PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao confirmed Mendoza's death to Rappler on Wednesday.
Mendoza is regarded by many as the father of counter-terrorism investigation in the Philippines as he took part in a key intelligence work that foiled a terrorist plot to kill Pope John Paul II during his visit to Manila in 1995. The Bojinka plot of 1995, which also involved blowing up airplanes, turned out to be the test run for foreign terrorists later involved in the 9/11 attacks.
Mendoza was also instrumental in the discovery and study of the Rajah Sulaiman Movement, which was linked to Southeast Asia terror organization Jemaah Islamiah.
Before retiring as a police chief superintendent, he was assigned to the PNP Intelligence Group and headed the provincial police of Zambales.
He was a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1978.
Spy vs NPA
More than his counter-terrorism operations, however, Mendoza is best remembered for his methodical sleuthing against the NPA.
Retired army colonel Abe Purugganan, Mendoza’s PMA classmate, was among those who paid tribute to Mendoza on their social media accounts.
“He is a patriot and a hero. He is one of the best spies or intelligence officers, if not the best I have ever known who was instrumental in numerous successful operations against the enemies of our nation. He was a notorious and expert operator. He knows the CPP/NPA/NDF like the palm of his hands.” Purugganan said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
“He was a mentor to many intelligence officers who up to day occupy sensitive positions in the PNP. Mabuhay ka Boogie! You have done so much for this country. A snappy salute to you,” he added.
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.