Thursday, February 2, 2023

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FIRING LINE: The problem with shortcuts

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The haunting call of Secretary Benhur Abalos on all police colonels and generals to tender their courtesy resignations is one helluva shortcut.

We understand it “has to be done” in the name of ridding the Philippine National Police (PNP) of top-level involvement in the illegal drugs trade. And this government wants to do it pronto, without shedding blood like the last administration.

That’s definitely going to be a scar in the national police’s history to have its highest-ranked officials resign en masse. To be clear, they are not being asked to take a leave from their designated posts but surrender their entire career to a five-person panel that would decide if they shall stay or be cut off from the PNP in disgrace.

That’s brutal. It reminds me of a scene in The History Channel’s drama series “Vikings,” where Rollo, the disgraced brother of the leader of the Vikings, had to be drowned as a test if the hand of the gods would miraculously reach down to let him live as proof they had absolved him of his crimes.

If it’s any consolation to the 144 generals and 812 full colonels whose careers seem to be tested in deep waters — Rollo survived!

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Sen. Koko Pimentel, though, is unimpressed with this “shortcut.” Like him, many question if the resignation of 956 of the PNP’s finest is necessary to get rid of only 10 or even fewer rotten eggs in the PNP.

As of this writing, two blocks of resistance have already surfaced. One is through an open letter that circulated in Camp Crame, signed supposedly by “innocent third-level officers.” The letter criticized Abalos’s call and the PNP Chief’s leadership.

On the other hand, the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO6)’s third-level officers drafted a carefully worded statement supporting Abalos, the PNP leadership, and their efforts to cleanse the ranks of the PNP of rogue cops involved in illegal drugs.

But it pays to be seen if this statement, which will be sent to Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, would be in lieu of the courtesy resignations asked of the signatories.

If so, would they face tough penalties? Like what, then: Forced resignation? Same banana.

*         *         *

While this is happening, there also seems to be trouble in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), with rumors of military officers and officials of the Department of National Defense (DND) plotting a government destabilization.

That information surfaced in the PNP through what appears to be a false memorandum purportedly coming from the office of Azurin and ordering a full alert because of mass resignations in the DND following the sudden replacement of Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro as Chief of Staff by his predecessor, Gen. Andres Centino.

To recall, Centino was the first Chief of Staff who was supposed to benefit from a new law that affords him a fixed tenure of three years unless sooner terminated by the President. But Bongbong Marcos took that prerogative and replaced Centino with Bacarro last August, six months ahead of Centino’s mandatory retirement from the military.

Last Saturday, Marcos swore in Centino, abbreviating Bacarro’s entitlement to a three-year fixed term as military chief. But even Centino, who is set to retire next month, hangs in the balance.

That’s another problem with shortcuts.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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