Egalitarian: Theory and practice in public safety and that Mindanao development

It was a Sunday, and they were not in their uniform. The 48 junior officers, mostly Senior Inspectors, and very few Chief Inspectors going back to school to learn and re-learn managerial skills and leadership qualities as they are set to be promoted for the next rank.

By time and grade, these are those men and women in uniform who will be holding city or advanced municipality’s director portfolio or equivalent unit. The group is hardly symmetric in age and gender. There are still fewer females in the force though the PNP encourages women with skills and dedication to join the PNP. There are also officers as young as 26 to as old as 44.

My lecture was on project management. I brought them back to the old terrain of conceptual and theoretical definitions of project management. If we are to translate the project management context in the PNP, it is on the Oplans that they craft. More often we hear about Oplan which is short for “Operational Plan.”

One thing we agreed is the challenge of crafting a project in two and distinct features. One is the personality-based, usually the program of a Chief PNP, while the other is the systems-based which is anchored on the nature of public safety requirements. Besides, operational plans can also be short-lived such as good for a celebration or an urgent event, while the other type takes longer time given that it is usually anchored on the term of the President of the Republic.

The value of the project management on the operational plan also bids some degree of mending the two. The operational plan is generally activity-oriented while the project management ensures that the activities are consistent and relevant to the whole organization. Albeit many activities initiated, some police stations and police districts do not win the hearts of the stakeholders because of the disarray of the police operations which flushes out trust; the activities devoid of community relations.

The very foundation of a mature society is sustained peace and order, a relevant fortification of the public safety engagements where the public puts a stake on the police force’s resources, competence and discipline because they address their concerns. Simply, the people’s demands are met by the public safety personnel. And it is not just ordinary law enforcement for that matter; it is meeting the expectation of gentlemanliness, courtesy, discipline, leadership, kindness, integrity and competence.
Again, where are the project management skills and theories set in? Project management is a science of initiating, planning, executing, measurement and evaluation, and closing. The vector of project management is towards the achievement of the desired outcome putting in full consideration the unintended outcomes. The added value is measurement and evaluation.

This old wisdom of Peter Drucker remains to be true when he quipped “you cannot manage what you cannot measure.” This, however, should not be the dreaded fault-finding and issue-mongering review process. It is defining first the meaning of success and then tracks the achievement levels of indicators. Now, what is the success measure of public safety?

If the public trusts and engages their police, and the police expand their competence and blends in with the community as role models, both as professionals and individuals in their private affairs, then public safety metrics are achieved.

And to be honest, all development starts with peace and order, and this is what we all need. In Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), another government agency task to provide strategic leadership for Mindanao, seeks actively the peace towards understanding of historical injustices and restoration of rights and respect for culture. This way, Mindanao can maximize its full potentials to accelerate its growth and catch up with development.

Posted in Opinion