Briones: To tattoo or not to tattoo

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Publio J. Briones III
Publio J. Briones III

Moral integrity.

I thought the Philippine National Police (PNP) would be more concerned about that, and not focus on the petty such as a tattoo.

Otherwise, how can it expect the public to respect the “men and women in blue” if they don’t have this one important character trait?

We need to be able to trust them while they go about enforcing laws and ordinances to protect our lives and properties. They need to be incorruptible while they maintain peace and order, taking all necessary steps to ensure public safety. They should be beyond reproach when they make arrests and conduct searches and seizures.

The organization should not be stressing on body art.

And yet it recently came up with a memorandum circular that prohibits police officers from sporting visible tattoos.

According to Col. Jean Fajardo, the PNP’s chief information officer, the ban is covered by its “internal disciplinary mechanisms.”

Fajardo said the policy is non-discriminatory, and stressed “there was public consultation before the new rules and regulations were made public.”

“There are certain norms and code of conduct we need to implement within the PNP so we can maintain discipline within our ranks,” she said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum last Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

Say that again?

Shouldn’t the PNP be going after police personnel who have more than one family or who lead extravagant lifestyles?

We know that they have been earning more since former President Rodrigo Duterte raised their salaries, but that still doesn’t explain how some — maybe I should say “a few” since all my police friends are God-fearing and downright good… at drinking hard liquor — are able to house a mistress in a condo or own high-end vehicles.

And what about those who allegedly engage in extortion and other illegal activities? There can’t be smoke without fire.

There’s a reason the public has become disillusioned or cynical when it comes to members of

the organization.

Mind you, the Duterte administration did try to get rid of scalawag cops, and I think the Marcos administration has been trying to do the same.

Perhaps, that’s what Colonel Fajardo meant when she said maintaining “discipline within our ranks.”

But did you know, tattoos did not originally have a negative connotation? Far from it. Historically they served an integral role in tribal culture.

Mind you, the natives wore tattoos as a badge of honor, and not because they were criminals or were fugitives from justice. I read somewhere that a marking sometimes represented how many enemies they had slain.

Now if you’re wondering how the perception warped over several hundred years, you have colonial rule to blame for it; first with the uptight, holier-than-thou Spaniards followed by the self-righteous Americans extending their “Manifest Destiny” to the Philippine archipelago.

Some legislators say the PNP policy violates the Constitution because “tattoos are regarded as a form of artistic expression and are protected by the right to free expression.”

But Colonel Fajardo said they are more than welcome to bring the matter to court.

Either way, what if the tattoo says “I love Jesus?” What then?


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