The pinning of the badge is perhaps the most significant moment a uniformed man or woman will forever cherish in his or her career journey. The badge is a distinctive emblem, a symbol of legal authority, pinned near the heart to remind the bearer of fidelity and dedication to duty, which are expected from a public servant.
Witnessing the joyous event of pinning a badge to a police officer is frequent and common, but a ceremony of detaching it is rare, because only a handful of police retirees dare to remove these emblems publicly, with pride and honor. Lo, Police Brigadier General Crizaldo O. Nieves is one of the said few.
If the ceremony of pinning this symbol of service is a happy moment, perhaps unbadging is one of the saddest and longest seconds of a police officer's life in service. However, to General Nieves, it is his proudest and most significant moment of his career -- his badge will rest at last after 34 years of fruitful police service.
After reaching the mandatory age of retirement from police service, Nieves has recently relinquished his duties and responsibilities as the regional director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Command 2 to a native of Tabuk, Kalinga, Police Brigadier General Steve B. Ludan.
Aldy, as his friends fondly call Nieves, has served the Cagayan Valley Region in the most challenging times -- during the onslaught of the global Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic, and the disastrous mega-flooding in the region last year.
But, in barely a year of leading the Valley Cops, he undoubtedly never seated on his laurels. Instead, he maximized his time to introduce development programs for the welfare of the region's police, as well as for sustaining peace, order, and security in Cagayan Valley.
He served Cagayanos in a very short stint, but, he will surely remain in the hearts of the people as he voluntarily introduced several programs for the marginalized, which are even outside the mandate of his office.
He also made history for the region after bringing home the bacon as the first ever Gold Eagle Awardee in the implementation of the Performance Governance System, wherein Cagayan Valley bested all other regions nationwide weeks before he officially bowed out from service.
"I urge every police officer to maintain and sustain our standing. Just perform the duties expected from you, and at the end of the day, it is not us who will say that we are successful in our programs, but the people in the community who felt our services," Nieves said during his retirement program.
General Aldy's service mantra was the "3 N's" or "Nakikita, Nararamdaman, at Nagugustuhan", exemplifying police visibility in the communities, ensuring that their services are felt and embraced by the locals, and winning the hearts and minds of the people. A part of this program is the deployment of one police officer per barangay in every town to serve as the front runner and a participant in community development.
The former director has also introduced the "Lingkod Bayanihan Pabahay" project, which is aimed at providing shelters to homeless families -- another project that touched the hearts of the poor and is now being replicated in other regions.
"He was able to conceptualize this project after the series of calamities that hit the region, wherein several families lost their houses because of the flooding and typhoons. So, as a way for the police to really show care to the [people affected], General Nieves encouraged the police to build simple but resilient houses for them. He also collaborated with various stakeholders to sponsor several housing units," Police Lieutenant Colonel Andree C. Abella, regional information officer, testified.
There were already 81 houses turned over to the beneficiaries before his retirement; 24 were ready for turnover, while 11 are undergoing construction.
During his stint, Nieves also observed that rape cases exist in different areas of the region. In fact, in some reports, the rape case rate is higher than other heinous crimes. That is why he coined the "Kwarto ni Nene" program, which encourages households to provide separate rooms for young women and children.
Aldy is not an office boy. Instead, he prefers to reach out to his men and the community, monitoring not only the peace and order situation in the locality, but also the plight and needs of the people, especially the poor in the countryside.
He is highly respected and loved by the Valley Cops as he became a caring father figure to the men and women under him. At the height of the pandemic, wherein many police officers were infected by the virus, he converted PNP 2's hospital into a COVID-19 ward for those with symptomatic mild, severe, and critical cases.
He also implemented his "Kunsikan" program, wherein he regularly communicated with his employees who were infected with the virus in order to monitor their situation, know their needs, and ensure that they are well despite the health challenges.
In the duration of his journey as a police official, he could be one of the most experienced officials of all time, as he was assigned to different courses of police service. He rose from the ranks. He served and mingled with people of various cultures, beliefs, and traditions.
In his areas of assignment, he introduced several development programs and projects that eventually are now being emulated in other regions.
Though he came to the region at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, Nieves is also perhaps one of the most fortunate among the regional directors of the PNP Region 2, as there were no major crimes recorded during his term.
At the day of his official retirement, his badge was unpinned as part of the ceremony, which signaled the end of his journey as a high ranking police official. In truth, however, only the power and authority vested in him as a police officer have ended, but his blazing desire to help the people in his capacity as a citizen will never fade.
"My passion to work and to help is still here. I will still continue to help others, [including] the police and [all other] people whom I can be of service to."
In his farewell speech, he declared, "Starting today, I will again be Mr. Nieves. But, I will carry on my advocacies for peace and human development in my capacity as an ordinary citizen of the Republic".
His badge might have rested, he might have entrusted his thousands of sheep to the next in power, and he might have gone back to his ordinary daily routines, but his legacies will never fade and will never rest. (JKC/OTB/PIA Cagayan)