MY RETIREMENT APPLICATION WAS DENIED
I thought that I have a clincher. I expect to retire on my birthday this coming May, 2014. While the compulsory retirement age is 65, I would rather call its curtain on my 60th. I would have accumulated 37 years in government service already. For me, that is heartily the full circle of my career in public governance. It is time for me to face reality. Serving the people belongs to the youth and I have passed my prime. It is bowing out, fading away or moving on to the next line. I am fidgeting to get back on my seat having spent so much time on the stage. Let the next generation express their presence naman.
My excitement to see the end of the tunnel, having submitted my application for retirement, did not reach a happy ending. It has been blocked. My superior does not accept the prospects of seeing me dancing on the way out. He called me up in response to my written application and would not accept it. No way for me to leave civil service. Accordingly, there is a new law, the Bureau of Corrections Act, which I must have to reckon first.
This is a bit perplexing. While leadership relishes bidding their subordinates, coddling them even and inspiring them to proceed to the next phase through retirement, in my case, I would hear nothing about encouragement but plain disapproval.
I was already humming the song…”All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…” a hit song of the Carpenters in the late 70s, communicating with my peers who have already reached the homerun, announcing on my blog site, extolling cautious notes to my friends and colleagues and then I would get stranded.
I was never sad to leave government service. Although it has been very challenging and exciting; helping people and advancing one’s social outlook, there is nothing that would make me addicted to power and perks. As a matter of fact, it literally ripped my relationship with my loved ones, my parents, sibling, family and childhood friends by concentrating on my duties as government officer but still and all, the four decades I devoted my youth extending succor to the least of our brethren were philosophically enriching. There is no regret, there is no lamentation, it is just a simple celebration of a completed task, a passport to Heaven.
Prison service has been good to me and my career. It broke records just to accommodate me. I was the youngest Division Chief in the entire apparatus of government at the age of 26 (as Chief of the Reception and Diagnostic Center of then Bureau of Prisons). Eight years later, I was appointed as Penal Superintendent IV, the highest ranking officer in the agency at the age of 33. (The Penal Superintendent IV position is equivalent to PNP’s Chief Superintendent and AFP’s Brigadier General. That is right, in military parlance, I was the youngest general.)
In the course of my correctional career, I have handled the National Penitentiary four times, Davao Penal Colony thrice, and once Iwahig (Palawan) and San Ramon Prison (Zamboanga). I also became the first Superintendent of a female prison (Davao)! I have represented the country in correctional congresses abroad (Japan, Australia and Malaysia). What more can a prison officer ask for? At a senior age of 59, I could see myself as obstacle to the next generation of ranking prison officers already. I am too ripe for the picking.
I will seek reconsideration. I will appeal and resubmit my application for retirement. Not that I dislike prison service but I must not be a barnacle for my junior officers. I must give way. I have stayed quite a long time. The prison leadership will eventually realize that there is wisdom in allowing his officers, those who have been loyal and dedicated to a cause, to embrace another period of their vocation.
Besides, I could not imagine myself being eased out on compulsory basis at the age of 65. By then, I would have lost my interest in appreciating the beautiful people around. By then, I would have been pejoratively classified as Dirty Old Man. I must go down the stage while my knees are not shaking.