PNP’s long transformation journey

FINALLY, after 10 long years,  the Philippine National Police was finally given the Performance Governance System (PGS)-Institutionalized status last Monday and I would like to remember all the police officers and men who have played a major role in the PNP’s long transformation journey.

PNP chief, General Oscar Albayalde said it all when he described their transformation process “as a long and arduous journey, but one that was worth all the effort, time and resources expended along the way. “ “The lessons learned are priceless, the experiences invaluable, and the results lasting and truly meaningful,” he said when he accepted the ISA certification in front of a jampacked crowd the other day.

I agree with the PNP chief when he said that finally, other PNP chiefs that will follow him will have a roadmap that will guide them in all their plans and endeavor to really transform the PNP into a more credible, effective and efficient police force comparable to other modern police forces abroad.

I have actually been a witness (and even a participant) to reforms initiated by a number of PNP chiefs thru the years. PNP chief-turned Senator Ping Lacson had his much-appreciated campaign against inept, corrupt and undisciplined cops which gave him and the police force a very high public satisfaction rating.

In 2002, the PNP’s transformation journey progressed under Gen. Jun Ebdane when a comprehensive study on how to transform the PNP into a more capable, effective and credible police force was formally launched in partnership with the Supreme Court and the United Nations Development Program.

In 2004, a man named Edgar Aglipay launched a PNP Transformation Plan in response to the call of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for a solid anti-corruption program. In 2005, the PNP Integrated Transformation Program which was a result of three extensive studies was finally born after being approved by then PNP chief, Gen. Art Lomibao.

A few years later, the PNP introduced the PGS as an opportunity to further enhance and strengthen its reform process and in 2009 became one of the six national government agencies which adapted the PGS and vowed to institutionalize its system to address corruption, instill accountability and transparency in the government and institutionalize the culture of good governance towards inclusive economic growth and development in the country.

I can say that the PNP has really come a long way since then. From being ‘initiated’ into the PGS in September 2009, it attained the ‘compliance status’ in October 2011 and later, the ‘proficient’ status in September 2012. On Monday, Gen. Albayalde was beaming with pride after the PNP got its ‘institutionalized’ status with its PNP PATROL Plan 2030 crafted in September 2009 serving as the police force’s roadmap towards lasting and real change.

Gen. Albayalde said it right when he offered his gratitude to past PNP leaders who tried their very best to come up with a real honest-to-goodness reform program.  He particularly cited Gen. Lomibao whom he said started the PNP’s transformation journey with an unquestionable forvor and commitment.

He also mentioned the names of Generals Ebdane, Aglipay, Oscar Calderon, Sonny Razon, Jess Verzosa, Raul Bacalzo, Nick Bartolome, Alan Purisima, Leonardo ‘Dindo’ Espina, Ric Marquez and Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa. I would not hesitate to add the names of retired Generals Edong Acuña, (he in particular thanked me for inspiring good PNP leaders to hold on), Rex Dolino, Omar Garbo and of course, PNP Chief Directorial Staff and the concurrent chairman of the PNP Technical Working Group Lieutenant General Camilo Pancratius Cascolan and Brigadier Gen. Noel Baraceros, the director of the Center for Police Strategy Management in the list.

By getting the ‘institutionalized’ status, there is a very urgent need for the rest of the police force, from top to bottom, to really embrace the PGS roadmap and learn its lessons well in order to provide the citizenry with ‘only the best and most relevant services’ as Gen. Albayalde said.

It doesn’t end there since there should really be an honest-to-goodness periodic review of the implementation of strategic initiatives, notable process improvements and determination of the level of performance of the entire police force as the PNP emphasized.

Ten years after adapting PGS, the PNP now has more than 20,000 reform advisers plus its National Advisory Council for Police Transformation and Development, all with the vision and mission of transforming every police personnel into being an active PGS partner.

On a personal note, I would say that the PNP would be having a very hard time finding an official who could equal the sincerity and commitment of Baraceros, a classmate from PMA ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 of Generals Albayalde, now Senator ‘Bato’ dela Rosa and Cascolan to pursue the PGS.

Gen. Albayalde said it all: “I thank the very hardworking Director of the Center for Police Strategy Management, Police Brigadier General Noel A. Baraceros for his transformational leadership, his passion and deep commitment to the PNP’s transformation efforts and who, for the past several years, served as the driving force in the implementation of the transformation strategy.”

“Looking and stepping back to where we have started, it was really, as the Chief PNP mentioned a while ago, a long and arduous journey, filled with numerous challenges, obstacles and difficulties,” Baraceros said of the PNP’s transformation journey.

“Coupled with the difficulty in initiating and introducing change is the fear of the unknown, the natural tendency of our personnel to ‘avoid moving out of their comfort zones’, and to do away with the ‘business as usual’ mindset; are the mean excuses of too technical terms, difficulty to understand, too cumbersome, lack of time and even the lack of fund support. Albeit, there are a good number of adopters that became building blocks and first responders leading and showing the way for others to follow,” he said.

Baraceros summed up what the PGS has done to the police: First, it helped police officers move out of their  ‘comfort zones’ and change their ‘business as usual’ attitude.’ “We ‘hand-hold’ them as we walk through the PGS process highlighting the benefits of institutionalizing good governance, practicing accountability and transparency and of aligning activities with the overall objectives of the organization,” he explained.