On (dis)courtesy resignations

Sadly, the PNP is yet to come out with its own “discipline matrix”, but until then the interior secretary will just be navigating a rudderless ship.

The “social engineering” stratagem laid before the Philippine National Police’s top leadership is akin to the “cult of personality” associated with totalitarian or authoritarian regimes, monarchies, theocracies, and failed democracies. It forthwith sets the interior secretary apart from his immediate predecessor but brings to light its relative irrelevance since in the counterpart Armed Forces of the Philippines there has been no parallel move.

The call for the courtesy resignations of 953 generals and full colonels under the pretext of damning evidence of involvement in illegal drugs against nine of them sets a dangerous precedent. It cannot borrow from the “divine right of kings” dogma although it can be an easy route to fame in what Adrian Teodor Popan describes as “quantitatively and qualitatively exaggerated public demonstration of praise of the leader.”

That “anachronistic” act is like taking the bull by the horns. It’s not relieved of a possible “backlash,” even storm, to his own mooring, especially since some segments think that he should resign instead rather than ask the top brass to do so en masse — only to be subjected to a five-member panel cum “arbitrators board” who will vet their guilt or innocence on links to illegal drugs.

It is of uncertain validity whether, at the current rate of compliance, the resignation will pitch a 100 percent success. Borrowing from Taylor, is it the “best way method” to purge officers with drug links or drug-related crimes if the manner is akin to witch hunting, Russian roulette, “to whom it may concern?”

Any ordinary observer of trends could say that the interior secretary’s game plan is novel, even “insane”, simply because it is without precedence. The only acceptable bureaucratic initiative, as we have seen, is one reserved for presidential appointees to a Cabinet portfolio to give the new president a free hand in choosing his men.

However, the instant case calls for all top echelons under the interior secretary to tender their courtesy resignations as though his interest and that of the president are mutually exclusive. Why not abolish the entire PNP organization instead than shaking the very foundation upon which the PNP stands — the 953 senior police officers at the highest levels of responsibility?

No way a utopian approach by an interior secretary can be the best means to get ahead of the curve without being confronted by legal issues. To disabuse our minds, let’s compare and contrast what’s currently obtained in the PNP with that at the Department of National Defense.

When the OIC-DND filed his irrevocable resignation, at least nine undersecretaries and assistant secretaries followed suit, making manifest their move to mass resignation. What the newly-appointed defense secretary did was to ask them to “stay put”, instead of accepting their resignations so he could appoint his own pack of deputies.

Neither can the interior secretary, in “commanding heights”, expect to inject into the entire organization a “strong workplace culture” if he has first to displace all his top brass — stripped of their present positions — something repugnant to the customs of the service and established line of authority. What’s the logic in all this “ethnic cleansing” — call it that — if its purpose is not to play “god-king” in a community of officers and gentlemen fully deserving of deference? No reservations?

Was it not Aristotle who said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”? Isn’t it a pearl of wisdom to say that “when you work together you create a third person who is better than both of you” — this in the spirit of team play? Sadly, the PNP is yet to come out with its own “discipline matrix”, but until then the interior secretary will just be navigating a rudderless ship.

Why throw a larger net in the middle of the ocean when the fish you’re zealously after a swim in a small lake? Why rake all officers alike over the coals? Let’s not miss the forest for the trees.


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