Having begun the new year with that yet strangely explained air control systems fiasco, we got further “strange” news in the first week of the year.
There was DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos asking all PNP officials from full colonels up to the Director General to submit courtesy resignations, in order, he said, to weed out those involved in the drug menace.
Since the PNP has become a civilian security force, as directed by the 1987 Constitution which effectively dissolved the Philippine Constabulary, its employees are covered by civil service laws.
What happens to those who invoke the mantle of civil service security of tenure and do not submit courtesy resignations?
Will they simply be shamed into being accused in the public eye of involvement in drug syndicates?
Former President Duterte accused five high PNP officials and tagged them as “narco-generals,” yet to date, none have been charged in court, but the ignominy of presidential accusation has effectively tarred them and their families into the level of ostracism.
So is the call for “voluntary” resignation a softer way of pressuring police officialdom than PRRD’s narco-tagging, even as everybody’s record of involvement is reviewed by a committee yet to be composed?
Strange though not unprecedented as the move is, many have speculated that it was timed to cover up for the January first airport fiasco.
That speculation is unfounded, as Abalos, a lawyer, is not expected to make such major announcements without deliberate study.
Yet, Abalos has succeeded in putting all the star and near-star ranked PNP officials in a bind, even as the public awaits with bated breath who the new “narco-generals and narco-colonels” are.
Not to be outdone, Malacanang announced the return of four-star general Andres Centino to his post as AFP Chief of Staff, vice three-star general Bartolome Bacarro who was appointed in August, a few months before his retirement age in the military, to replace Centino.
The AFP re-appointment was presumably done to conform with the provisions of RA 11709 which provided for three-year tenures for the CSAFP and flag officers. The law seeks to correct the long-time practice of short-stint, revolving-door top commanders who just warm their seats in the post while awaiting retirement.
Strange though is the fact that the “replaced” Centino was nominated to be our next ambassador to India, and already waits for the Commission on Appointments to give their nihil obstat.
“Bigay-bawi” though it may be called, it is a corrective measure as Bacarro’s appointment roiled the system provided for by the new law. One then asks why CSW, or complete staff work, PFVR’s favorite admonition, seems to be absent in the hallowed halls of Malacanang.
ES Bersamin in his remarks during the turn-over promised Bacarro an extension of his “public life” though. Ambassador-designate to New Delhi, perhaps?
Still, the palace came up last week with a very good appointment—that of former GSIS CEO Rolando L. Macasaet to head the Social Security System.
Macasaet, a native of Zamboanga City with paternal roots in Batangas, holds a singular distinction, having been appointed to helm both the GSIS by two successive presidents at that, testament to his good managerial ability and effective financial management.
The Commission on Audit reported last year that GSIS topped the incomes of all other government financial institutions.
GSIS under Macasaet earned P350.85 billion, followed by SSS at P254.41 billion, surpassing even the Bangko Sentral’s 118.15 billion pesos.
In terms of service to members, Macasaet offered low interest loans to GSIS members to enable them to pay off their long-standing debts to lending companies which charged 24-36 percent annual interest rates, even higher, and transferred these to GSIS at 7 percent interest.
Cognizant of members’ needs during the pandemic, GSIS released P320 billion to help civil servants, of which P7 billion was in the form of loans to members to purchase laptops for their children who had to attend on-line classes.
Rolly has been given a more challenging post, with SSS’ actuarial life shortened, and the demands of retirees pressing down on its lowered financial ability.
For starters, we suggest that he goes after employers who fail to remit, or short-change their employees of their social service contributions. That has been a sticking thumb in SSS operations.
Reforming the pension fund system of our work force is a challenge that I am optimistic Rolly will be equal to. Congratulations!
Quick response is the hallmark of sensitive public service.
It is quite refreshing to note that the Department of Agrarian Reform under Conrado Estrella III has been commended by Malacanang for its 100 percent swift action to all 451 concerns brought to its attention under the Citizens Complaint Center.
This is a welcome departure from bureaucratic “dedma” where citizens’ concerns are given the Mona Lisa treatment by bureaucrats — “they just lie there, and they die there.”
Conrad does his lolo, Tata Condring who was FM’s one and only agrarian reform secretary, proud, even in the after-life.
Nice beginnings too after a problematic 2022.
From the private sector, Ramos S. Ang is an example of a businessman who cares, and quickly responds to public concerns.
Having been hooked on the skyway San Miguel built and opened last year, I noticed a vehicular choke point, especially during rush hours, on the northbound Quezon Avenue exit, which I always travel on.
Apparently, there is a similar choke point in the Araneta Ave. junction with Maria Clara, both in QC, which motorists have complained about. And another in the Sales Road junction with the NAIA expressway exit, this time in Paranaque.
Unmindful of the extra cost to a PPP project which has yet to get its return on investment, Ang immediately ordered the addition of one more lane from Magallanes to NAIA Expressway to address the perennially heavy flow of vehicles.
RSA’s PPP projects are not just very useful, as in the NAIA Expressway which cuts travel time for passengers rushing to the airport, and was finished in record construction time, but premium is always put on efficient service and a rare private sector sensitivity to the public it serves.
RSA’s quick action brings me to another wish list, this time with regard to the hugely problematic Department of Agriculture.
Government should consider public-private partnerships in the agricultural sector to address both resource paucity and management efficiency, especially as regards agrarian reform beneficiaries and other small farmers and fisherfolk.
It may require tweaking the 2018 RTL which effectively castrated the NFA and converted the agency into nothing more than a public warehouse.
Most if not all ARB’s with small plots of 2 or 3 hectares have neither wherewithal nor management knowhow which are needed to improve productivity and increase their incomes.
DAR and DA could consolidate small plots into larger fields with appropriate economies of scale, then partner with the private sector who can provide financing of inputs, mechanization, and management expertise, on loan to farmers, to be amortized or paid-up when government, through the National Food Authority or Food Terminal Inc., buys their produce.
Meanwhile, for starters, NFA could serve the rice consumption needs of all civil servants, whether national or local, using the palay purchased from the farmers’ cooperatives tied-up with the private sector’s CSR initiative.
The same PPP template for palay and rice can be replicated in cold-storage and other post-harvest systems to serve our fishermen and vegetable farmers, through a revitalized FTI.
And yes, that should include growers of onions, the astronomical price of which cries to the highest heavens for consumer relief, and over which the DA, with its useless SRP and its habitual lack of foresight, has surrendered to its usual villains — the “cartels.”
Meanwhile, a Chinoy friend told me that in the public markets of Guangzhou, a kilo of onions sells for 3.20 renminbi, or about 26 pesos. Compare that to 650 pesos here, and cry.