The term 201 file has its roots from the US Army. Borrowing this term, most government agencies and even private organizations have used “201 file” to pertain to employees’ administrative and personnel records. But, why 201 and not 101 or 202? In military terms, “2” stands for intelligence. Hence, the very first “intelligence” file in any organization is the person’s comprehensive profile—past and present, as these 201 files get updated for every promotion or award, leaves accrued and taken, and any other records to ensure that companies keep track of what’s happening with their employees. These 201 files are often used by human resource departments to consider whether a person is to be promoted or to be recruited.
For obvious reasons, organizations conduct a background check to review the personal, educational, financial, and criminal records of job applicants. Some companies go as far as requiring the submission of government clearances—from the NBI, the PNP, and the LGU, as pre-requisites prior to any interview. With the advances of technology, background checks are much easier compared to my Army days when I was part of a military intelligence unit. Back then, depending on the extent of the information needed, we conducted surveillance, casing, and elicitation activities just to find out more information about the person subject of the background check.
There are compelling reasons to do background checks on all job applicants. These reasons include providing a safe workplace for all, minimizing exposure from employee liability, and discouraging applicants with something to hide. Knowing a job applicant’s history helps human resources departments, some of which unfortunately rely on instinct alone or, worse, nepotism, evaluate and hire the most qualified job applicant. In the case of Wilfredo Gonzales, the gun-wielding man in a road rage incident in Quezon City, his 201 file from the PNP ought to include red flags which should have prompted the hiring team in the Supreme Court to conduct further evaluation before the services of Gonzales were engaged.
By simply browsing through Gonzales’ 201 file, which now has been available to media due to Gonzales’ fourth case of misconduct, at least on record, the judicial department should have known that Gonzales was dismissed from the service in 2017 for grave misconduct. Prior to this case, Gonzales was also ordered dismissed in 2006 for another case of grave misconduct, only to return to active duty after a successful appeal in 2012. Further, based on record, Gonzales was demoted in 2013 for another case of grave misconduct. These acts of misconduct were so glaring that Gonzales should not have been employed in government, especially in one that dispenses with justice and, at the same time, allows him to carry firearms in the process
After 30 years, I recently reconnected with a law school classmate who dedicated a significant time of her professional life protecting child’s rights. Under the auspices of UNICEF, she took on various assignments outside the country to teach people in developing nations about the rights of children. If our Almighty God were to run a background check on her, the very first area that He would look into would be whether she lived a life worthy of her calling. I am convinced that she was called on to teach. Hence, in her many years in Asia and the Pacific (Timor Leste, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji, to name a few), she has served as a role model, perhaps unwittingly, for her audience—carefully following the things that she taught. These things, beyond the provisions of law, are the values of patience and humility, grounded on God’s commandment of loving God and loving others. These things, when done out of love, whether considered as accomplishments on any 201 file or attributes seen through personal observations over time, are far more important than those seen in a comprehensive resume.
A background check helps but is never a guarantee that a person is trustworthy for a position. Records reveal much about a person but cannot uncover a person’s character, integrity, or willingness to help others, all of which can only be observed over time. Records can be exaggerated, or worse, doctored. But an up close and personal observation almost always reveals the true character of a person. Interestingly, the Bible shows us how those closest to Jesus Christ had the opportunity of knowing him and his true character. Interestingly too, we find the same incident of background check in the Bible when some people who witnessed Jesus ably teaching at the synagogue questioned his authority. They had to refer to Jesus’ “201 file” which states that he is the son of a carpenter, whose mother’s name is Mary, and brother to James, Joseph, Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55). But to a believer of faith, Jesus’ “201 file” stretches beyond his earthly familial background, for His “201 file” likewise stated that He is, indeed, the Son of God: as attested to by the Apostle Paul: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” In these modern times, anyone who wishes to conduct a background check on our Savior need only look at the Cross to identify his character and fortify the fact of his sacrifice.
Background checks are useful but should not be the sole determinant in major decisions, whether a person’s employment or marriage. In the case of the hiring of Wilfredo Gonzales, a simple check would have been sufficient. As for others, let’s be more circumspect and discerning, guided by the values of love, sacrifice, integrity and righteousness that our Savior has fully demonstrated to us at the Cross—the perfect embodiment of truth beyond any 201 file.
A former infantry and intelligence officer in the Army, Siegfred Mison showcased his servant leadership philosophy in organizations such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Malcolm Law Offices, Infogix Inc., University of the East, Bureau of Immigration, and Philippine Airlines. He is a graduate of West Point in New York, Ateneo Law School, and University of Southern California. A corporate lawyer by profession, he is an inspirational teacher and a Spirit-filled writer with a mission.
For questions and comments, please e-mail me at email@example.com.