I wrote a blog about my NBI Clearance renewal in September of 2007(click here), and since I had my NBI renewed again recently, I decided to write another one, and perhaps compare my experiences since then to see if there were any improvements. The satellite office in Carreido where I got my clearance renewed in 2007 is now reportedly closed, so I got my clearance this time from the main office at the corner of Taft Avenue and Padre Faura Street.
* Walking Shorts are Not Allowed in the Premises. Luckily, one of street peddlers outside of the entrance was renting slacks for P50. She had a (what I guess) were sized 36 pants, which were 4 sizes smaller than mine, so it was a tight fit, but it was good as the pants at least stayed in place well, and I just tucked my T-Shirt out and over it so nobody noticed. I wore it over my walking shorts right out there in the sidewalk, right in front of the passerbys. Nobody seemed to take notice of my situation, though. I can’t understand this stupid requirement by the NBI, we are in a tropical country, so why insist on implementing a stupid rule during the very hot summer? If they say they want decency in their “nice” facility, then all I can say is that their facility is not as “nice” as they say it is.
* Fixers Abound. As I was wearing the rented slacks over my walking shorts, one fixer siddled up to me and said the clearance will only be released by June 4, but he kept implying he could have it released faster. So I asked him straight out how soon I would get the clearance, and for how much if I had it go through him? He quoted a price of P800. I said it was too much for me, so I just declined and headed off into the compound.
* Intense Corruption Among NBI Employees is Common. As I enter the compound, there is a table where two men were handing out forms. As they were handing out the forms, they kept saying that the clearance will only be released on June 4, about a week away and the same thing the Fixer told me. I just told them I was not in a hurry, so it was okay with me. It turned out later that this is just an EXCUSE, presumably to drive more business to the Fixers of which I presume they had a cut. There was no delay, I got my clearance right after I finished the process. I asked somebody at the facility why I kept hearing about the “June 4 release”, and he told me it referred to applicants with issues found in during the background check.
Another case of corruption was how NBI Employees act as “escorts” to applicants to bypass lines. I saw an effeminate employee with his colored hair escort some people who I presume availed of the Fixers bypass the lines and go straight to the station. The moron had an NBI ID, which unfortunately was turned inward so I couldn’t see his name. It seems this guy had a lot of influence, as the people manning the station accommodated him.
And yet another case of corruption was how one Encoder had snacks and candies being sold in front of her station. As she was finishing encoding the data from the forms, she would tell the person whose form she is encoding to buy something. Of course the person got intimidated, and bought one candy she was selling for P2 each.
* Dirty Stairs. As I was walking up the stairs of the facility, I noticed all the dust gathering on the inner edges of the stairs, and I couldn’t see any Janitor attending to it. It is unsightly, and ruins the ambiance of the new facility.
* Some Areas of the Facility are Poor. The areas where the applicants fill out the forms is dark and hot, and basically is just a broken up building. You see bare, unpainted walls, and columns with uneven surfaces due to the fact that parts were broken off it. There are some large fans in the area, but these were not enough to keep the place cool. The next area where the data is checked is a little bit better, the place actually had some finishing on it (smooth walls and columns, paints, etc.), but it was still outdoors and a bit hot.
* Mediocre Processing. The total processing time for my clearance was around 36 minutes, which is actually worst than the 30 minute processing I had at the Carriedo Satellite office in 2007. The process is basically the same, there are only minor differences in the stations which one has to go thru. I came in at 11:10 am, then left with my printed copy at 11:46 am. Then again, I could just be lucky, as on my way out I saw that the stations I just passed thru had a lot more people lined up on them. Even the peddler I returned my pants to told me my processing was fast, so perhaps I was just lucky and found the “Sweet Spot”, that time of the day where most of the applicants were already processed and new applicants haven’t come in force yet.
* Some Staff Not so Courteous. There are people directing the traffic, telling people standing in line which station to go, and one was not so courteous, humiliating one applicant who thought he was the one being called out to go a particular station. In another instance, another guide was downright rude in directing males to go to other side of the hall as processing stations for males and females were now separate, at least during the Biometrics stage of the process.
* Most Areas of the Facility are Good. Starting from the Payment Station all the way to the Printing section are housed in the main building, which is new and with a great airconditioning system. It was cool and comfortable all throughout this area, and since it is new very little evidence of paint chipping away, or dirt accummulating on the walls. This is definitely a lot better than the Carriedo Satellite Office I went to in 2007.
* Mostly Courteous Staff. Most of the staff were courteous and patient, especially those in the Data Check area where they had to deal with people making mistakes filling out the forms. Even the corrupt Encoder above was courteous in asking the applicants to buy her stuff, LOL.
So, after 6 years, what can I say about the NBI Clearance processing between now and then? Well …
* Most of the Facilities have improved, although some areas outside of the main building still needs improvement.
* Processing time has not improved, in fact it seems to have worsened. I was just lucky this day to come in at the right time.
* Corruption seemed to have worsened under this NBI Administration. I didn’t see the amount of corruption now as I did back then.
The shameless display of corruption is unsettling, as this is supposed to be the NBI, the best Law Enforcement agency in the country. And yet despite that, you have fixers, escorts and extortionists out there in the open for all to see. If getting an NBI Clearance already shows a good amount of corruption, how much more for really serious stuff?
Whoever is running the NBI these days is not doing a good job of cleaning up his own backyard. If he is not even aware of these things outside of his window, you wonder how much he knows about everything else.
Let me make this suggestion to him, then: Allow pictures and videos to be taken inside your facility. This will deter corrupt personnel as it means they can be reported with evidence about their wrongdoings. Let the people themselves report for you, if you don’t have the ability police your own rank.
It is instances like this that makes me lose faith in this country. After more than half a decade, I only see token improvements, with some areas actually getting worst. And take note, this is now under the PNoy Administration, 3 years into his purported “Daang Matuwid”, and we still end up with this kind of bullshit.