ON RETIRING FROM GOVERNMENT SERVICE
It is easier to resign or to disappear or to simply disintegrate than retire, says an exasperated senior citizen who filed his retirement papers lately after reaching the compulsory age of 65. That is the retirement age for civilian government workers. For the uniformed government agencies like the Police and Military, it is 56. For the Judiciary, it is 70. In the private sector, it varies. In some cloistered companies, a worker is retired even younger at 45. For athletes, reaching the age of 30 is already almost automatic, almost mandatory with exceptions of course.
However, on this score, I wish to refer to the usual civilian government bureaucracy retirement qualification. Once qualified, a worker has to file a number of documents. First, the clearances. Then the certifications. Then the forms. Then the requests. Then the formal filing and the suspenseful part, the waiting period.
It looks simple at first glance but let me elucidate further.
When one files for clearances, the retiring worker has to communicate to all units and sections in the agency where he belongs. A single missing item from that which he used in the service must have to be strictly accounted for and surrendered; and if not located or produced, the head of the unit will never issue a clearance. And it is only one among several units a person must have to connect for the final signature in the unit or section concerned. When everything has been conducted, the request for clearance goes to the mother organization through its numerous major units. If there is a deficiency noted in just one unit, the entire clearance procedure stops or gets stranded. The person must virtually work on its fulfilment. This would take eternity unless he taps his family, friends and whatever connections. And so, finally he completes the list of those names with signature signifying clearance on their respective turfs. And finally, the document goes to the Office of the head of agency for the grand signature.
That’s the first modest step actually. Just the starting line.
What follows next is quite dogged and strenuous. The record of the retiring person goes into filtration. Various agencies in the criminal justice administration are wired for whatever reports they may have on the person. It may be a complaint, a charge sheet, a pending case, whatsoever derogatory report can be found against the applicant. If the person has encountered or got involved in trouble some time past and his name was included, he is in not only for anxiety but for a greater headache. He must show proof that whatever that dragged his name had been resolved already or that it was merely his namesake, whatever.
Considering the fact that the wheels of justice at times grind slow, painstakingly slow that it could slog for years, then that should signal his capability on being patient. He must have to wait until a pending item is terminated. If in the course of working for certification demands athleticism then he should salvage anything worthy of his physical stamina if only to endure this gripping phase. Sometimes it pays to be a sloth to save energy (and his allowances) while working in government because at the end of the day, he will need more of it in facilitating the requirements of his retirement.
Then the Forms. The retiring applicant must possess audacity at this point.
Having completed this phase, he is now ready to fill up the forms. One must be prepared to carefully read directions. There are terms and conditions at the back. One must be keen on that which he would check out and apply. There are warnings. Mistakes are penalized. Errors become permanent and a direct cause of delay as if delay is never an order of the day.
I recalled an instance. I went to GSIS to renew my GSIS ID (called UMID) and after spending a day on a long cue and made to understand that the agency has full automated capabilities already but has to efficiently produce a new ID for several applicants, a date was given me—five weeks for the release of the new ID. Said card would be used as the depository medium for loans and in the event the gratuities and related retirement benefits would be deposited. It has been five months already and despite follow up, the card has not yet been processed and has as yet to be issued. If an applicant misses out a day, that is delay; but if government misses for some time, it’s called a simple glitch. I am not at a loss now why my neighbor never wanted to seek employment in government.
Comes the tricky and exciting part—filing of request.
What does a retiree wants? He must check out what conditions he would fall into. That is, what specific law he is qualified and what options he wanted to take. Should it be a lump sum or immediate pension? Anyone in the personnel office is conversant with the details of retirement and they could even share testimonies and experiences of those who took option one or two. The stories alone can benefit the one filling. One also gets the latest rumor on those that retired and those filling up the forms. This makes the portion of the process kind and entertaining to the person facilitating. After filling up the blank and signing it, it immediately goes to the Head of the Personnel Section then off it goes instantly to the next agency concerned, the GSIS.
The waiting period commences and the entire shebang of effort finally rests on bated breath. I have not yet gone on the first phase of retirement. These were all feedbacks to me just yet. Retirees gave me impressions and those on the ground, in offices, have sent me responses based on feelers I submitted. At this juncture, I already feel like a renegade about to surrender. I also have an eerie feeling like that of an escapee about to turn over himself in.
But what is prevailing on the cue to collect one’s retirement benefits based on conversations of those on the line is the realization that one enters government with pure idealism, that is pure career, pure work, pure sacrifice for years, dodging enticements then at the end of the term, after reaching the twilight years, it is all about that which a person eluded and hated as a temptation all throughout his term—- seeking monetary assistance.