The Chief of the PNP, Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa; members of the Command Group and Directorial Staff; this morning’s recipient of the PNP Foundation Inc.’s donation, the PNP Retirement and Benefit Administration Service led by their director P/Col. Arthur Bisnar; the uniformed and non-uniformed men and women of the PNP; the awardees of the much-coveted Outstanding PMA Alumnus Award – for your information I was also a proud member of Alpha Company of the Cadet Corps, AFP – a pleasant morning to all of you.
Historian and 19th Century diplomat Washington Irvin once said, and I quote: “Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune, but great minds rise above them.”
Over the past months, we have been confronted by a series of misfortunes brought about by a health crisis that caught the whole world unsuspecting, literally altering the way we have known to live our lives.
From the time that the government has imposed community quarantine, our police forces have been standing side by side along with our medical front liners in serving and protecting our people from an invisible but deadly enemy – one that is unfamiliar yet so treacherous that even law enforcers such as yourselves cannot let your guards down.
Amidst the far-reaching consequences of the pandemic, we are celebrating significant milestones of the PNP as an institution. The spread of the coronavirus may have put the world into a standstill, but never our men and women’s power to push for meaningful agenda and reforms, thereby affirming the prudent words of Washington Irvin that great minds do really rise above adversity.
Hence when I learned that P/Col. Bisnar assumed the lead of the PNP Retirement and Benefits Administration Service, I already knew that we are on course for something transformative. Known as a stickler for discipline, a genuine agent of change, a reformist, and a leader of unflinching moral ascendancy, pensioners such as myself know for sure that everyone’s best interest would be his top priority.
In fact, when Col. Bisnar requested the PNP Foundation Inc. through this representation as its Chairman to donate some IT equipment, I knew he wanted to jumpstart the computerization of the PRBS sans the usual bureaucratic delay that normally attends government procurement, with the objective of properly accounting and cleansing the list of pensioners and preserve the integrity of the police retirement system.
Early this year, Oplan Bilang was launched to account for all pensioners nationwide, followed by what is now called track-care teams who, amid the pandemic, were able to reach out to tens of thousands of our pensioners to update and collect their records. For those who are in the far-flung corners of the country, afflicted by health conditions, and have no means to accomplish documentary requirements for their pensions, the programs were so much of a relief – para na ring nabunutan ng tinik sa lalamunan. Kasama na po ako roon.
And the good news continues.
With the unprecedented challenges that come along with the “new normal,” the “Pensioner Ko, Sagot Ko” Program is a responsive approach in advancing the welfare of our pensioners, who, not to mention, belong to the most at-risk and vulnerable, especially in these trying times. This program also brings forward an opportunity to revitalize the unique sense of camaraderie and fellowship between and among the 243,809 active personnel and the more than 90,000 pensioners of the PNP.
From a viewpoint of a legislator, I must say that this is an out-of-the-box initiative that also upholds the sacred tenets of transparency and accountability in terms of handling our public funds.
Allow me to share: in 2017, being one of the principal authors of Joint Resolution 1 in the Senate, which sought to authorize the increase in the base pay of military and other uniformed personnel (MUPs), I manifested both during the committee hearings and in plenary that I would donate to the PNP Foundation Inc. whatever amount would be generated by my retirement pay differential during the entire period of the 17th Congress if and when the legislative measure would be enacted into law within that time frame, since by increasing the base pay, the retirement benefits would also increase. It was to also preclude possible conflict of interest on my part in actively pushing for the said legislation. And I did exactly that. I am now happy and proud with the thought that part of the Foundation money used in buying the items being donated to PRBS this morning came from my retirement pay.
As I already mentioned, among those who are benefitting from the increase of the base pay are the retired MUPs of the Philippine National Police (PNP), along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
Data from the DBM showed that for the year 2019, about P41.9 billion was already released to 91,913 pensioners, INP and PNP, alike, while over P24.1 billion was appropriated as of July 2020.
Needless to say, the very nature of this fund makes it susceptible to manipulation and abuse.
You know, for somebody who had spent the last few weeks crunching and scrutinizing the issues of fraud and anomalies that beset PhilHealth, which is our state health insurer, perpetrated by the cunning few who would go leaps and bounds to manipulate billions from the public coffers, it is literally a breath of fresh air to witness innovative solutions that reinforce our unflinching resolve against the evils of corruption.
Moving forward, I understand the need to address the ballooning fund requirements for separation, retirement, and pension of the MUPs. Pending in the legislative mill is Senate Bill No. 1419 entitled “Military and Uniformed Personnel Services Separation, Retirement, and Pension Act of 2020.” Rest assured that I am with you in ensuring that adequate benefits and remuneration are provided to our men and women in uniform.
It is said that “modern technology has become the defining force of a new social order, in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity.”
With the launch of the PNP One Network, a nationwide initiative that connects all PNP offices in a singular backbone, the Filipino public can expect higher efficiency in our police force’s performance of its ultimate duty – that is to serve and protect.
“Mula Batanes hanggang Jolo,” ika nga ng grupo ng aming lider sa Senado – mas mabilis at mabisang serbisyo publiko ang aasahan ng ating mga kababayan mula sa hanay ng ating kapulisan sa pagsisimula ng PNP One Network.
Being one among the five agencies that rolled out the use of autonomous systems using Border Gateway Control, we are confident that the PNP is in the right direction in leveraging technology as a powerful tool for good governance and meaningful progress.
In addition, the culmination of the PNP Email System, which serves as a secured and reliable digital communications platform for all official correspondence of PNP units and individual PNP personnel, is a testament to the institution’s unwavering tenacity to rise above the inevitable demands of the new normal.
All these being said, I give my snappy salute to the men and women of the PNP who are behind these endeavors.
We know that good governance takes place when we have well-intentioned people who bring their ideas, experiences, and strengths to the table. The PNP is fortunate to have transformative officers, through the leadership of Chief PNP Archie Gamboa, who remain committed to our collective aim of serving no one but the Filipino people.
At this point, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to all of you for having me here this morning.
I wish you all the best. Mabuhay ang Philippine National Police!