Are they intimidated by Digong’s threats?
Last week thousands of AFP retirees were unable to avail themselves of their regular monthly pensions, resulting in all kinds of difficulties and frustration among affected personnel, both officers and enlisted men.
In the past, many retirees could claim their pensions at the AFP Finance Center in Camp Aguinaldo. However, the discovery of various anomalies including the setting-up of ghost beneficiaries resulted in the institution of strict measures to prevent leakages in the pension system. The previous administration decreed that all pensions be coursed through the banking system with the pensioners being required to open ATM accounts at government banks such as Landbank and Veterans Bank. Their benefits would then be deposited in these accounts and could be withdrawn every 16th day of the month.
Last Monday, Jan. 16, when pensioners went to their ATMs, they were informed that nothing was available and that payments were suspended. No specific reason was given, leaving everyone in the dark and wondering what was happening.
For many pensioners, whether military or civilian, this amount is the only regular income available for them. If payment is disrupted for any reason, they have to resort to costly measures to make up for the delay. It is therefore imperative that payment is promptly received in accordance with established procedures.
After checking with high-level AFP authorities, it appears that the culprit is the Department of Budget and Management. According to these sources, the DBM was late in transmitting the necessary “Saro/NCA” (special allotment release order/notice of cash allocation) to cover the funding requirement. In this particular instance, tardiness resulted in unnecessary inconvenience for thousands of government pensioners.
January being the first month of the new year, one would expect that extra effort is exerted to ensure the smooth implementation of government measures, particularly as they impact directly on the lives of ordinary people.
On many occasions, President Duterte has threatened “to terminate with extreme prejudice” (my favorite CIA expression) all those involved in the illegal drug trade and other criminal activities. He has also warned corrupt government officials to shape up or face severe disciplinary action, if not outright dismissal from the service.
Apparently if we go by recent events, the criminal elements in our midst appear unfazed by all his threats and outbursts as they continue to carry on with their usual activities, perhaps even getting bolder and more brazen as they operate with seeming impunity.
Two cases in point.
The first: the kidnap-murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo right inside the headquarters of the Philippine National Police. What greater impunity can we expect than for murder to be committed inside Camp Crame just a short distance from the office of the PNP chief himself? And by PNP elements, at that! And with funeral arrangements paid in part by a golf set as though murder was some game to be paid off by a sports commodity!
What did this innocent Korean citizen do to deserve such cruelty at the hands of law enforcement agents? I am somehow reminded of what Joseph Stalin once said: “When one man dies, it is a tragedy. When thousands die, it is statistics.”
There are calls for Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to resign from his position. I wish he would do so quietly on his own without using the usual safety net of “serving at the pleasure of the President.” It is not because I consider Bato a crooked and ineffectual leader. In fact, I believe he is sincere and is doing his best in a difficult situation. You do not inherit command of an organization of almost 160,000 officers and men, and hope to change the culture of the place overnight, or over a couple of years. But he should consider resigning because the honor of the institution is at stake. When such a grisly crime is committed in your own backyard by your own people, how can you possibly face the nation and go on as though this was some ordinary occurrence?
There is also another reason for Bato to consider resignation. While I realize that resignation under fire is not part of our culture, it would be a mark of honor for Bato to give up his post and move on to other endeavors. I have always felt that there is life after government service. It is not the end of the world. And people will respect and admire him for such an action.
Let’s face it. The PNP is the same Constabulary we had in the past, this one under a new name and uniform. The old habits, the old modus operandi, the old mindset, have remained in place. For one thing, our national police force is a highly politicized organization. With so many challenges come much pressure, many temptations, and many pitfalls.
The other case has to do with the Bureau of Immigration.
How could two fraternity brothers of the justice secretary and the President, only recently appointed as deputy commissioners, be involved in alleged entrapment operations that involve payment of millions of pesos without the knowledge of their chief?
As deputies, and this is true for most organizations, their work is usually limited to specific supervisory activities assigned to them by the head of the office. But in this case, the two individuals, on their own, are caught on CCTV receiving millions of pesos that they keep to themselves until events blow the whole operation wide open. They resign or are fired, who knows exactly? Any charges filed? No one seems to know.
The point here is that two close friends of the administration did not hesitate to engage in criminal activities in spite of the President’s warnings about being tough on corruption and illegal actions.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.