POLICE Staff Sergeant James Ladera had never been assigned in his hometown—Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte.
The 44-year-old police officer has been with the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office for nearly 17 years.
Typically, he would be able to see his family four times in a month; due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he has not visited his family in Mindanao in seven months.
In the past months, he communicated with his loved ones through phone calls or video calls. However, starting on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, Ladera has no need to find a good cell phone or internet signal before he could call his loved ones—he was among the 76 personnel under the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 who were reassigned to areas in the vicinity of their residences on Wednesday morning, Oct. 14.
Ladera availed himself of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) assignment localization program, which was initiated by PNP Chief Camilo Cascolan.
A total of 2,222 police officers were sent off on Oct. 14.
Cascolan led the send-off ceremony for the police officers in Camp Crame. Those who were assigned in the regions attended virtually.
The implementation of the localization of assignment program, with Cascolan, is in accordance to Section 63 of Republic Act 8551 (the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998), which gives a police officer the sense of ownership of the locality that he represents.
As of Sept. 29, 2020, the PNP-Directorate for Personnel and Records Management said a total of 8,561 police personnel had applied for reassignment, but only 7,410 of them were qualified for the program. To qualify, the police officers must have served their units for more than three years.
The program is seen to boost morale and welfare since the police officers will be working near their families.
“I fully understand your emotional and financial struggle and sacrifices being away from your families and loved ones as well as the difficulties in adjusting to a new place,” Cascolan said in his speech.
Cascolan said he was confident that police officers will perform better if they are not worried about their families.
He was aware that police officers assigned to areas that are far from their residence have to spend for their transportation as well as board and lodging. The policemen also have to learn new dialects and understand a new culture.
The PRO 7, for its part, will receive 36 police officers from other regions.
Ladera was thankful to the PNP leadership for granting his reassignment to his hometown—he now has more time to talk with his wife and children in person. (AYB / CBQ / TPM / SunStar Philippines)