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Solons urge PNP to reconsider tattoo policy

At least three members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday questioned the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) memorandum circular banning visible tattoos among policemen.

In an ambush interview, Bukidnon Representative Jonathan Keith Flores said the issue may be tackled when the House deliberates on the PNP’s proposed budget for 2025 later this year.

“Budget hearing is coming up so we have to talk with the PNP again. Of course, if that is going to be a continued policy, we will also like them to reconsider it as we consider also the budget that they’ll be requesting for,” Flores said.

“Tattoos are really not determinative kung kaya ba ng tao to be a police officer or not. So it should be, I think, revisited din yung policy na yan,” he added.

(Tattoos are really not determinative if a person can be a police officer or not. So I think the policy should be revisited.)

When asked if he has any tattoo, Flores replied, “I have none [but] I have nothing against it.”

Gabriela party-list Representative Arlene Brosas, for her part, said the PNP should consider skills more than tattoos. 

“Napakahigpit naman nang sobra to the point na parang pagbabawalan ka dahil lang sa tattoo. Hindi maintindihan ng representative na ito kung bakit kailangang ganoong kahigpit yung usapin dahil ang usapin dito ay yung skills mo,” Brosas told reporters in a separate ambush interview.

(It's too strict to the point that even tattoos are banned. I can't understand why they are so strict on that when the issue should be skills.)

Brosas said the policy does not only violate human rights but also limits those who can serve in the PNP.

“Konti na lang ang pupuwede or magiging viable para doon sa trabaho. I think isa ito sa mga measure na nakaka-ano ng ating kalayaan. Kalayaan natin na kung gusto nating magkaroon ng tattoo, gusto nating magkaroon ng self-expression, dapat yon, malaya mong nagagawa,” she said.

(Only a few will become viable for the job. I think this is one measure of our freedom. We have the freedom to choose if we want tattoos, we want self-expression. We should be able to do that freely.)

“I think merong issue rito ng human rights. Kasi nga yung kalayaan mong makapagpahayag, mas primary naman talaga yon kahit sa ating Konstitusyon. Sa ating Bill of Rights, malinaw naman kung ano yung mga kailangan. At hindi dapat yon sinasagkaan,” Brosas added.

(I think this is an issue of human rights. Because the right to express yourself is primary in out Constitution and in our Bill of Rights.)

The party-list legislator also said the policy should not be imposed not just in the PNP but also in other workplaces.

ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro agreed that such policy on tattoos should not be implemented in any office as it violates the Constitution.

“Constitutional violation yon at rights ng ating mamamayan yung magpahayag freely,” Castro said in a separate ambush interview.

(That's a constitutional violation of our rights to express ourselves freely.)

Castro said having a tattoo or not is not a basis for an individual’s performance at work.

“Hindi na kasi pagiging masamang tao or pagiging miyembro ng gang or whatever yung simbolismo ng tattoo… Hindi naman ito magiging sukatan kung masama o hindi yung aplikante, di ba? Nasa ginagawa naman yan. So tingin ko, freedom of expression yan and hindi yan kinikitil ng ahensiya o anumang kumpanya. Hindi kasi yan yung sukatan ng performance at pagiging masamang tao o mabuting tao ng applicants,” Castro said.

(Tattoos no longer symbolize a bad person or membership to a gang... they can't be used to measure an applicant's attitude, right? The person's deeds are more important. So I think having a tattoo is freedom of expression and should not be curtailed by any agency or company.)

Castro said the Makabayan bloc, of which she is a member, has not received complaints against the PNP’s new policy on tattoos but added that they are willing to help groups or organizations that would challenge it. —KBK, GMA Integrated News