Thursday, April 03, 2014

Of Competence, Fried Chickens, Crispy Patas, and Policewomen

 At the outset, let me unequivocally state my admiration to PO1 Juliet Macabadbad, PO1 Lilia Langtawin, PO1 Marcelina Bantiyag and PO1 Maricel Rueco, the four policewomen who shot it out with armed robbers at the Mall of Asia recently.  They are the epitome of what policewomen (and policemen) of the PNP now:  brave and buo ang loob, well equipped, --and ill trained and do not command respect of many criminals.

Let me immediately explain, before the bashers start their thing.

Brave and buo ang loob:  their action speaks for itself.  Without hesitation, they rushed after the armed robbers and shot it out against them.  Anytime of the day, I will take these four ladies in my team.

Well equipped:  the pictures in the news tell it:  they have Glock 17, arguably the best duty gun, used by numerous law enforcement and military outfits the world over.

Ill trained and do not command respect of many criminals.  The picture again says it all.  One policewoman (I think PO1 Macababad) is holding her Glock in not the best way possible, betraying her insufficient training in handgun.  And PO1 Macababad herself has this to say:  she was three meters close to the suspect, who also pointed a gun at her.  “We were pointing guns at each other. Luckily, I was able to shoot him first.” she was quoted in the ‎news.  (For a well trained shooter, splits at 3 meters can be 0.2 seconds, thus a double tap in the A zone is feasible.  Let’s not argue about it, I have done it for several times already and not one of the persons I shot survived so far.)  Back to the policewomen.  Their being untrained must have been the expectations of the robbers—half correct apparently—that they still went on with their daring heist despite the presence of the policewomen nearby.  Unfortunately for them, the lakas ng loob and good equipment of the policewomen partially made up for their poor training that one of them was captured and the other was presumably wounded.

Why am I saying all these?  It is because this incident is a very good backdrop of the bigger issue that I would like to really discuss for a long time now.  The fried chicken versus the crispy hullaballoo.

Since my commission in the PNP, I always hear PNPA graduates say “pagdating ng ating panahon” referring to the time that the PMA graduates all retire from the PNP leaving the PNPA graduates as the ruling majority.  This “panahon” is expected to be in 2027 when the last PMA Class 92 retires.  PNPA graduates usually add with all idealism that in their time, things will be different.  Will it be?

Every year, around 200 graduates of the PNPA join the officer ranks of the PNP.  All this time, another 600 to 800 officers also join through two other ways: lateral and vertical entry.  Lateral entry is usually for the technical services where complete civilians join the officer ranks while the vertical entry is for the SPO4s getting promoted to the PCO corps.  But lateral entry is also enjoyed by PO3s and up who immediately get promoted to the PCO rank in the line services.  So with this background, PNPA graduates will still constitute the minority of the officer corps despite the absence of the PMA, much like the way that the PMAs had always been the minority in the PNP.

But why do PNPA graduates so eagerly anticipate the “time”?  It is because despite their being the minority, they expect to be the “ruling sector” of the PNP just like the PMA being the ruling officers nowadays.  And what does the PNPA has to offer that will be different from what the PMA currently offers?

Reading the arguments of PNPA graduates published in the newspapers in their call for equal distribution of positions for both the PMA and PNPA graduates, I cannot help but notice that all their reasons appears to boil down to “We are PNPA graduate thus we should also be accorded the same privileges as the PMAyers.”  In the discussions, nothing is mentioned about the APOLEs and the vertical entrants.  Most tellingly, nothing is mentioned about competence.  It is almost assumed—by both sides presumably—that the source of commission equates to competence.  Because you are a PNPA graduate, you are competent say the PNPAyers.  And the PMAyers apparently think the same way albeit in favor of their school.

One PMAyer was quoted some years back saying that PNPA graduates are “defective” while PNPAyers insist that PMAyers are not fit for policework because their training is military.  Yet both sides always fail to mention that training-wise, an argument can be made that the best trained PNP officers could be the lawyers who are lateral entrants because of their law background or the SPO4s who were promoted to inspectors because of their long experience.

But all arguments about competence will always be subjective unless we actually revisit the standards etched in stone—and the PNP had none.  Standards in the PNP are changed to suit the ones in charge.  When generals cannot pass the CESE, they prodded CSC to make their own third level examinations.  They targeted CSC because many generals are then chummy chummy with its chair Karina David.  When many still cannot pass the CSEE, they instigated the NAPOLCOM to invent the PESE, a glorified neuro-psycho test and viola, they passed!  When generals noticed that their tummies were bulging in the GOA uniform because it is worn tucked in, the solution is not to reduce their waistline but rather, they changed the uniform, thus the blue blouse now worn by all officers came into being.  Until last year, it was exclusive for the “star” ranks only!  The blue blouse hide the bulging tummies of generals because it is worn tucked out.

Even nowadays, because many generals fail the physical fitness tests, the semi annual tests were also scrapped!  Zumba na lang.

The remaining standards and qualifications used for promotion and positioning open the organization to eventual subjectiveness.  To be promoted or given a position of responsibility, an officer usually needs to have the necessary schooling (OBC, OAC, OSEC), the educational background (BS or MS), the eligibility, and time and grade.  But lo and behold, eventually, all officers possess all these thus the bata bata system comes into play.  One PMAyer actually told a subordinate PNPA graduate, “Iho, sana maintindihan mo na kung pareho rin lang ang qualifications nyo ng ibang mga kandidato, e di doon na ako sa schoolmate ko.”  And here I come with one suggestion.

There are other qualification standards existing in the PNP that are not yet repealed but are conveniently glossed over by people who cannot pass these standards.  Unfortunately for the PNP, many of these flunkers are actually people who, through the bata bata system, now hold the highest positions in the PNP.

One of these qualifications?  Firearms proficiency.

Letter of Instruction Nr 76/09 was a memo signed by then Chief PNP Jesus Versoza entitled “PNP Standard Handgun Marksmanship Training.”  This LOI sets the standards that classify a PNP personnel into marksman, sharpshooter, expert, and master in that order.  If the personnel fails, he is considered a “novice.”  The LOI cited statistics that showed that 82% of personnel from the National Headquarters (NHQ) and the National Support Units (NSU) based in Camp Crame failed to classify. The same LOI also cited that 57% of the personnel from the Police Regional Offices also failed to classify.

Among the failing personnel are the generals and the senior officers of the PNP.  The solution?  Adjust the standards and lower it.  Here is the link of Versoza’s pronouncements:  However, when senior officers still failed the examinations, it was scrapped altogether.  When then NAPOLCOM Commissioner Luis Mario General called the attention of the PNP to the matter, PNP senior officers moved heaven and hell to oust him! (sounds familiar?)  The result?  Look at the way PO1 Macababad holds her gun.

Bashers may say that it is the fault of the training school.  Yes it is.  So shall we send all these people back to school?  How many instructors do we have? If we just send 50% of the PNP back to school, that is not less than 50,000 personnel!  How long are we going to finish that and does PPSC and PNTI have that capability?  I will answer that in a separate article.  So what is the solution that I propose?

The solution stares us right in our faces:  make it the responsibility of the PCOs to teach their subordinates and rate them for that.  Relieve PCOs from their positions if they fail to teach their people and do not promote any personnel failing this standard.  But there lies the heart of the problem.  Many PNP officers themselves are incompetent.  Can we force them to learn then?  Panfilo Lacson sufficiently demonstrated what a competent Chief PNP can do in terms of forcing compliance from subordinates.  During his time as Chief PNP, because he is physically fit, he forced all senior officers to be physically fit too and sanctioned the ones who cannot or do not comply.  One died and many others were hospitalized because of this, but nobody was able to raise any legitimate complaint against the policy.

Can the same be done on firearms proficiency nowadays?

Yes definitely it can be done but I doubt it if the current PNP leadership has the competence (and interest) to implement it considering that the current Chief PNP just ranked number 140 out of the 400 PNP shooters and collected just 55% of the points compared to the top shooter during the CPNP Cup national shooting competition last February.  Here is the link to the results of the competition held in Tarlac: 

Now, back to PO1 Macababad.  Who will teach her to be a better shooter?  Who can she approach?  Well, here are her bosses and their results in the same Chief PNP Cup:

NCRPO Regional Director PDIR Carmelo Valmoria (seated at the center) ranked number 254 out of 400 shooters scoring a measly 37% compared to the topnotcher.

Southern Police District Director PCSUPT Jose Erwin Villacorte (seated at the left of Valmoria) ranked number 190 out of 400 shooters and scored just 47% compared to the topnocher.

Pasay City Police Chief, Senior Superintendent Florencio Ortilla (seated at the right of Valmoria) is not even a participant in the shootfest, meaning, in SPD, he is nowhere close to being good in firearms handling compared to other personnel.

God bless PO1 Macababad…

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