HERE we go again.

In keeping with what seems to be the favored method of the Philippine National Police (PNP) hierarchy in cleansing the ranks of the police organization of scalawags, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Chief Noli Taliño is asking Camp Crame to transfer 29 non-commissioned officers in the region to Basilan province. Most of these cops were charged with grave misconduct but were cleared and reinstated because the complainants did not pursue the cases they filed.

The transfer of policemen to far-off areas is an old practice and is usually used by the police hierarchy as an alternative form of punishment in instances where guilt can’t be proven legally or when officials just doesn’t like the faces of their subordinates. It is also a way of forcing the concerned policemen to quit.

In the region in the past, “erring” police officers were usually “thrown” to Siquijor province. In Cebu, they were usually transferred to the Camotes group of islands. Taliño is recommending Basilan because days ago President Rodrigo Duterte and PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa had threatened to send police scalawags to Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi. Those provinces are not only far, rebels are active there.

The police hierarchy does not admit that this move is a form of punishment. PNP spokesperson Dionaldo Carlos has insisted this is a normal process. “Bilang mga active policemen, a reminder again that it’s a regular thing among us—the transfer and reassignment of our personnel,” he said.

But the policy has its share of critics, with the most recent criticism being aired by former president Fidel V. Ramos who said that areas where government forces are fighting with the rebels are places of honor and not dumping places of erring policemen. Also, it is unfair for the people in these places to be provided with misfits instead of the best in the police force.

Another argument against the move is the high possibility that even innocent policemen would be “punished.” Consider that most of the reassignments are based on mere suspicions and not on solid proof. In the case of the 29 non-commissioned officers, why would they be punished if the complainants stopped pursuing the charges against them? Why not continue establishing their guilt first?