Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Keeping up with the Joneses (and how it fuels corruption in the PNP)

From Wikipedia
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is an idiom in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one's neighbor as a benchmark for social class or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to “keep up with the Joneses” is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.

Manifestation in the PNP—and the Philippine Society in General

While in I do not know of an exact equivalent of the idiom in Filipino, “Keeping up with the Joneses” is very much alive in the Philippines.  It can be seen in business big and small, the neighborhoods both in urban centers and rural areas, and in fact all over the country in virtually all sectors.  No small thanks to the media who is actually leading the way, outdoing one another—beyond the realms of healthy rivalry—had become an unrecognized pastime.

Outdoing one another in a healthy competition is actually not bad if the yardstick is something noble such that it forces one to strive for self improvement and for the good of the many.  In school and the academe, the honor rolls exactly do that by rewarding excellence and hard work.  Healthy rivalries force businesses to improve and provide better services, to the advantage of the consumer.  The trouble starts when improvement is equated with the so-called root of all evil:  money.  This mindset was succinctly exemplified by no less than Senator Miriam Santiago during the Estada impeachment trial in 2001 when she chided a young UP graduate lawyer named Jasmin Banal for, in her terms, irrational behavior because the latter resigned from a law firm and joined another that gave her a lower pay.  Santiago told Banal, “So you deviated fromthe usual career path, since you and I and all UP law graduates virtuallypursue the same career path after graduation.  Isn’t that so? We try and get the highestsalary we can get.”  Now this is logical if Banal had not stated her reason beforehand.  She resigned from the first law firm after she found it to be setting up dummy corporations for Erap and his cronies.

The PNP in a way is a very big community.  And like any community, there are the Joneses—the PCOs who gets ahead of their peers.  Before, the yardstick is the accomplishment and career advancement illustrated by the medals and promotions.  One is said to be magaling and looked up to if he has layers and layers of medals in his chest.  He is even considered more magaling if he has spot promotions to boot.  Because of this culture, PCOs, upon graduation from the academy, jostle against each other to be assigned in the frontlines to be where the action is for a chance to prove that they are magaling. 

During that era, one field was especially appealing and lucrative:  intelligence.  This is so because the saying of Ernie Baron, “Knowledge is Power” rang very true then.  Intelligence officers always have the inside story of every situation thus they always have that first option at interdiction.  As such, they always get those coveted medals and promotions.

There was also another advantage that intelligence officers of the past enjoy.  Being the repository of all information, they naturally have the dossiers of the purveyors of illegal activities in their area, thus, these shady people immediately make a beeline to the office of the intelligence officer right after the change of command.  It is for this reason that the “primus inter pares” among the staff officers then is the intelligence officer.  He enjoys the trust and confidence of the commander, thus there is that special bond that usually forms between these officers that transcend professional relations considering that inevitably, the R2 is the protector of the boss by being the shock absorber in the underground rackets of the command.  It is for this reason that during those times, the bitbit is the intelligence officer or the so called R2.  But these shady dealings are strictly illegal gambling, illegal transport terminals, and night clubs staging bold shows.   Organized protection of illegal drugs, gun for hire, arms smuggling, and kidnapping are almost unheard of and if they occur, are frowned upon and disdained especially of the higher ups.  It is in gambling that commanders and their intelligence officers in the past get the extra emolument in their AOR.  It is here that the R2s become the Joneses.  They have the medals, the promotions, and the money, spurring the others to try to keep up with them by striving to be in the intelligence and also getting the accomplishments.  The Commanders, who are also part of the Joneses, also adhere to that time-proven admonition,"May dalawang bagay kang hinding hindi mo dapat na pakialaman na pag aari ng pulis mo:  ang asawa nila at ang pera nila."  So when commanders become wealthy, few, if none at all, PNCOs think that his boss benefited from money intended for him.  Ahh, this was the era where policeman calls the job "serbisyo" like

Long lost friend:  "Pare kamusta ka na?  Ano trabaho mo?"
Cop:  "Ok lang ako bro.  Nasa serbisyo ako."

But times had changed.  Today, the yardstick of being magaling now is not the medals and awards.  It is often the wealth that an officer accumulates--regardless of the source.  This could be partly due to the influence of the new "values" of the society as reflected in the attitude of Senator Miriam Santiago--money is everything.  Thus the attitudes toward service also changed.  Whereas before, the source of extra money is the "pera sa lupa,"commanders turn their attention to an even bigger and and more accessible source:  the organizational budget.  Compared to the "pera sa lupa" where you have to work for through "OPLAN PAKILALA," the MOOE is there for the taking, arriving like the sunrise every morning.

The annual PNP budget is at around P50B (yes with a B as in billion).  If only 10% of it is corrupted pocketed, that is a cool P5B a year.  Not may companies and corporations in the Philippines can turn that kind of income annually.  It has to be noted that the PDAF investigation showed that Napoles learned the ropes at the Armed Forces of the the Philippines, whose system is not very much different from the PNP.  In the early years of the PNP, the "clearing system" was carried over from the AFP which is its predecessor.  Before, the rate is at 5% but as the people concerned became more callous and the corruption became systematized and institutionalized, the clearing fee rose to as high as 30%.

Thus the Joneses nowadays are the comptrollers or the so-called R6 as they are most often the bitbit.  It is now in the comptroller family that everyone wants to be in.  This is very disturbing because the office does not give much chance for medals or spot promotions to personnel assigned thereat.  Even more disturbing is the fact that the main funds in the office are government money intended for the organization including the Maintenance and Other Operating and Expenses illustrating a whole new shift in the values of the organization.

The difference got stark.  Intelligence officers by nature, are contented to operate in the shadows.  Including the handling of their financial affairs, intelligence officers had been discreet, thus envy is controlled to some extent.  It is among their primary jobs in counter intelligence to monitor dissatisfaction and disenchantment within the ranks after all! Compare that to the scenario today with the finance officers and comptrollers.  With their own oath of omerta among them, finance officers and comptrollers have no qualms "clearing" the funds in collusion with the COA.  They are confident that their unwritten oath will hold:  "Huwag mong silipin ang anumang madatnan mo upang hindi rin sisilipin ng papalit sa iyo ang anumang iiwanan mo."  With this, they become part of the Joneses and they have no compunction about it.  Nowadays, you can see superintendents whose children go to exclusive private schools or spend the holidays abroad with their families in tow.  Or in the case of Quezon City, the bosses lavish their children with sports or pastimes that are normally beyond the reach of ordinary policemen, like car drifting!

Making matters worse, whereas before, the Commander Joneses tried to be discreet about it,  nowadays, the rank and file actually see the high roller living of their bosses who are often exposed committing shenanigans involving organizational funds.  The WERFAST and the V-150 repair are two of the best illustrations of the top generals and their underlings surrounding them making money from the organization to the detriment of the rank and file.  Especially the V-150 scandal, it is particularly disheartening for the patrolmen riding in dilapidated patrol cars or those who have to solicit from friends the maintenance of their vehicles only to know that the budget for repairs are just squandered and pocketed at the very top of the hierarchy.

This scandalous attitude of the Joneses is not lost to the rest of the force for everyone knows the pay and allowances of everybody.  For how can any policeman explain an ostentatious display of wealth on this salary scale? http://pnp.gov.ph/nsu/fs/Checking%20Accounts%20Section.pd

 

With this environment, discipline will inevitably breakdown.  Now that the lowly policeman sees that the priority of his bosses is not to serve and protect, what will prevent him from following suit?  Since his bosses had thrown finesse out of the window, what will prevent him from actually negotiating for grease money right inside the police station instead of somewhere else when rouge cops had not yet reached that level of alacrity?

Anyway, it is not far fetched to think that the rank and file believe that they have the tacit tolerance of the higher ups because the latter expects them to always have extra funds in their hands even without the support from above. This can be gleaned from that news story of in the Inquirer about La Loma cops trying to move on.  http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/637763/morale-down-la-loma-cops-try-to-move-on

The last paragraph of the story is this:

On an encouraging note, one of Bartolome’s former superiors recently sent him a message saying: “You clean up La Loma and then you invite me for lechon (roast pig, the delicacy the district is famous for).”

In the olden times, no superior would ever say this.  Instead, he would say, “You clean up La Loma and when you do, I will treat you to all the lechon you can eat!

See the difference? 

11 comments:

  1. im a police officer, mid level officer. you are correct iba na ngayon ang priority ng mga nasa taas and not speaking pnp alone i hope you will agree with me that such culture transcend from one government agencies to another. but its not for me to defend or justify the culture in the pnp, mali naman talaga. and it pains me na kahit natutulog ako, malinis ang ginagawa k naghihirap at nag sasakrispyo para tuparin ang tungkulin, pero bali wala lahat kc kahit ano gawin k tingin ng tao pare pareho lang mga pulis, magnanakaw.

    pero ganun pa man, i will still do what i think is best, for my sworn duty, for the organization, for the country at para sa mga tao na dapat kung pinagsisilbihan. I believe kahit hindi ako naging pulis tungkulin natin lahat na maglingkod sa kapwa, sa bayan natin, para sa katahimikan at ika uunlad nito, higit ngayon pa dahil ako ay isang pulis.

    kahit ano pa man ang tingin ng karamihan sakin, as long as alam k tama ang ginagawa k, anyway i im not doing these for any body BUT IM DOING IT TO GLORIFY THE NAME OF MY CREATOR. SYA LANG ANG BOSS K. TO GOD BE THE GLORY...

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    1. very nice outlook sir! agree ako sa lahat ng punto mo 100%!. As for me, I am doing this blog also for the PNP organization that I love with my life. Keep up the positive outlook in this, arguably, darkest hour of the PNP. We will get through this...

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  2. pulis din ako at apektado rin sa mga nangyayari involvement ng ilang pulis sa isang di kanais-nais sa pangyayari. Mahirap kung minsan ipaliwanag sa mga anak natin ang ganitong sitwasyon, ngunit bilang isang member ng PNP dapat parin protektahan ang organization na nagsusulong ng kaayusan at kapayapaan sa bayan. Naniniwala din ako na ang pagbabago ay dapat mgsimula sa taas, at bilang isang lider dapat good example talaga, subalit karamihan sa mga opisyal ngaun ang laging nasa isip ay kung paano yumaman gamit ang kanilang posisyon. Naniniwala din ako na ang na ginawa natin di mabuti ay singilin dinsa atin pg dating na tamang panahon

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    1. keep on holding on to the idealism. matatapos din ang lahat ng pagsubok na ito.

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    2. i think change must start from all of us..and more from our leaders. Speaking as a government employee also, being late to report for duty is already a corruption. Corruption in any forms, small amount or big, or being late or by just bringing home 1pc of bond paper are still Corruption... sana magbago na tayong lahat.....to all good policemen, just keep up the good works...just don't forget, YOU'LL REAP WHAT YOU SOW....

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  3. Yea, I can relate with your pains as I myself became a victim of corruption. When I was still a pnco, I was then a 1man army in one section doing all the paper works and validation all by myself and even used my own money to buy for my office needs like coupon bonds, inks, folders and the like to let my office survive. Imagine that, I was a pnco.
    When I became an ofcr I was once again given a task less the financial resources. I took it heartily and again used my own personal money.
    Do I regret it? No and no?
    Why? Because I do not want to loose my nonnegotiable values: To serve the people at my best no matter what the consequences are.
    Money disappears but integrity forever lives.
    I shall always keep the hope for change.
    God bless us all in our professional endeavors.

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    1. wow! keep the fire burning sir! my salute to you!

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  4. love of money is the root of evil.. graduates of PMA pass on to their Mistahs their positions and traditions (including corrupted money and ways on how to get it). ilan na silang PMAyer na NAHULI o NAGPAKAMATAY.. that is the reason why they want to get back into the row PNP and take the POLICE POWER BACK. pinagsisiksikan nila masyado sarili nila sa posisyon na hindi naman para sa kanila, the reason? to corrupt more.. PAMANA, PABAON, etc

    sana ma break na ang mga traditions na yan at unahin ng mga kawani ng gobyerno na pagsilbihan ang ating mamamayan para umangat ang buhay nating lahat at hindi ng iilan lamang.

    isa pa, aanhin mo naman ang kotse, mansyon, bahay at lupa, mga alahas at mamahaling gamit sa langit di ba?

    hindi siguro tinuruan ng mga magulang nila ang mga tiwali sa tamang mga prinsipyo sa buhay, o kahit takot na lang sa DIYOS.

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    1. very well said. salamat sa comment and visit!

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    2. If the PCRG and CPSM have been reading your blogs, boss pulis na pogi, is it okey that you also publish as another "blog" their reactions, if there are any? If we look at from a different angle, corruption in the PNP where frontliners are involved, like into "hulidap", extortion, "lagay muna bago trabaho", etc, these can be described as manifestations intended to ridicule the top management of the organization.

      PO1s up to Superintendents do know and understand that funds have been allocated for them once the GAA is approved in Congress and eventually singed by the president. Yet, the beneficiaries never receive such funds so the mission that the top management of the PNP wanted achieved maybe realized.

      But in order to at least prove that lower Units (stations) are working and producing results, their operatives resort to "extra-legal" endeavours so they can finance well their police operations.

      They perceive that release of MOOE to lower Units is just a ploy to hide huge allocated extra funds, thru the DC.

      Officers are aware that special police operations crafted by the Directorate for Operations and Directorate for Intelligence more particularly, including other Directorates, were likewise separately funded but such allocations were never dispersed to the performing Units.

      Clearly, the MOOE is very specific as to how it is spent. And in real setting, it is not even enough to finance actual police activities in a month's period.

      So, baka ho may reaction sila as to how funds coursed through the DC are released to lower units so that may kabuluhan sana ang mga sinasabi ng mga top managers sa PNP na "we will not tolerate wrongdoings."

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tell me what you think!