I’M posing this question amid the failure of the Philippine National Police leadership to offer or tender retirement honors for their resigned Chief, General Oscar Albayalde, a member o the illustrious Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 who marked his 56th birthday on Friday.
A close confidante of Albayalde told me that as if the latter didn’t exist in the PNP since nobody cared to offer retirement honors for him or even host a simple dinner for him. “He didn’t’ avail of retirement honors since in the first place it was not offered,” my source told me.
The resigned PNP chief actually was not allowed to say his farewell message, presumably with no rancor nor bitterness to PNP officers and men in particular and the Filipinos in general. Poor general, I would say. It’s as if he got struck by a highly-communicable disease such as leprosy that many of his so-called friends and colleagues have avoided or worse, literally abandoned him.
All seemed rosy for Gen. Albayalde months before his retirement. The future is good as they say. He attended what turned out to be his last official foreign trip in Vietnam where he led a PNP delegation in a successful ASEANAPOL summit in Hanoi last September.
Six days after arriving from Vietnam in September 21, he motored to Benguet where he was the guest of honor and speaker at the Police Service Anniversary of the Cordillera Police Regional Office. The following day, the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association tendered a testimonial parade/lunch for him.
Three days later, the world seemed to have fallen apart on the big shoulders of the former PNP Chief as an October 1 Senate hearing dragged his name into the ‘Ninja Cops’ controversy followed by more juicy details during the October 3 follow-up hearing.
It was the start of a nightmare for Albayalde and family. All things changed since then, with many of his friends, peers and colleagues suddenly giving him a cold shoulder treatment.
Last October 14, Albayalde stepped down as the 22nd PNP chief, 25 days ahead of his mandatory retirement at the age of 56. Why? Everybody including the media was ganging up on him.
The so-called ‘John Michaels’ (I learned of the phrase from my two daughters—short for ‘Nan-John lang pag Michael-langan) started shying away from him. If before, everybody was OK, everybody was happy, the October 1 and 3 Senate hearings suddenly changed the world for Albayalde. As my friend have told me: “All of a sudden, they ganged up on him. Parang may ketong na si CPNP, ni kausapin ayaw na.”
On Friday night, I got this press statement from PNP spokesman, Brigadier General Bernie Banac regarding Gen. Albayalde. The PNP spokesperson who became the youngest member of PMA ‘Tanglaw Diwa’ Class of 1992 to become a 1-star general under Albayalde said that the latter capped 37 years of dedicated police service when he officially retired from the force on Friday.
“On his last day in the police service, General Albayalde offered an early morning thanksgiving mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Arnulfo Fraga at the PNP Multi-Faith Chapel in Camp Crame with his family, close friends, and colleagues,” Banac said.
According to the official, “PNP fundamental doctrine on drills and ceremonies prescribe a full-dress parade and review ceremony for retiring police generals in recognition of their service. However, General Albayalde opted to waive the privilege to be accorded traditional retirement honors.”
Banac said that before going on Non-Duty Status effective October 14, 2019, General Albayalde was honored by the Cadet Corps, Armed Forces of the Philippines with a testimonial parade at the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City last September 28, 2019.
“I am closing the final chapter of my career with a great sense of professional fulfilment of having spent the most significant period in my entire lifetime, and shedding the uniform that has been a part of my person over the past 37 years,” Albayalde said in his speech before PMA cadets.
“I want to leave the PNP with the same thoughts from great leaders who inspired me throughout my career,” he said, quoting from General Douglas McArthur’s Old soldiers never die speech: “it was the fulfilment of all my boyish hopes and dreams… and like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty,” he added.
According to Banac, “the PNP recognizes Albayalde’s 18 months tour of duty as the 22nd Chief of the Philippine National Police.” “He leaves a legacy of competent leadership for leading the PNP to greater heights of honor and glory with a string of socially relevant law enforcement campaigns that earned for the PNP and the national government the unprecedented all-time high public approval ratings as shown in recent surveys.”
“With Albayalde at the helm of the national campaign against crime, illegal drugs and corruption, public perception of crime and fear of crime slumped sharply over the first two quarters of 2019 while public approval of the anti-drug program soared at 82% during the same period. His swift and decisive action against rogues in uniform became the hallmark of the PNP internal cleansing program,” Banac added.
As the country’s youngest police general, Banac expressed gratitude to Albayalde for the trust and confidence in handpicking him as personal publicist and mouthpiece of the PNP at the height of police security operations for the May 2019 midterm elections that was precipitated by a series of armed confrontation with domestic threat groups and partisan armed groups in perennial election hotspots around the country.
Indeed, old soldiers never die, they simply fade away. Gen. Albayalde had just closed his military and police career and will fade away just like the many soldiers and policemen in our Dear Country who have done their duty in accordance with God’s will. Happy Birthday my Friend.