PNP bans visible tattoos for personnel

Mark Ernest Villeza - The Philippine Star
PNP bans visible tattoos for personnel
New police officers from the National Capital Region Police Office.
Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) has issued a policy prohibiting its personnel from wearing or sporting revealing tattoos.

PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo on Monday noted that since the assumption of PNP chief Gen. Rommel Marbil, there has been no directive to erase or remove tattoos of any PNP personnel. However, there is a memorandum circular regarding the bearing and sporting of tattoos.

“Those who enter or intend to enter the PNP via lateral entry, whether line units or technical units, our cadets in the PNPA (Philippine National Police Academy), our incoming patrolmen and patrolwomen definitely cannot enter the PNP with a tattoo,” Fajardo said at a press briefing at Camp Crame.

She added that for existing personnel with tattoos, once the necessary requirements are met and the Memorandum Circular 2024-023 is published, they must declare their existing tattoos.

The memorandum circular, which was approved last March 19, will become effective 15 days after its publication on the Official Gazette and a newspaper of general circulation.

After the circular takes effect, they are not allowed to add additional visible tattoos, according to the PNP official.

“Visible tattoos, especially on areas like the face, head, neck, arms or any visible part while in uniform, are prohibited,” she said.

She added that aesthetic tattoos, such as those on the eyebrows or lips, are exempted.

Fajardo clarified, though, that the regulations aim to maintain a professional appearance and are not a curtailment of rights, but rather part of the rules and traditions of the uniformed service.

Regarding the removal of tattoos, personnel are given a grace period of three months to have visible tattoos removed at their own expense.

Fajardo said that failure to comply may result in disciplinary measures, including pre-charge investigation.

She stressed that while some may view tattoos as a form of creative expression, being in the PNP means adhering to specific rules and policies.

She underscored the importance of maintaining a professional image and following organizational regulations.

Free to leave

Police officers who refuse to remove visible tattoos on their bodies as stated in the memorandum circular that was approved last March 19 are free to leave the police force.

“If you cannot follow regulations, then the PNP’s door is wide open for you to resign,” Fajardo said.

The PNP released the new policy after noticing that some police officers are bearing or sporting tattoos that are visible when they are in their uniform.

Tattoos which are considered offensive, discriminatory and indecent are prohibited even if not visible. Among these are body designs advocating illegal activists, racism and sexism.

Police officers with existing tattoos are required to execute an affidavit declaring their body art while the memorandum circular is awaiting publication.

A police officer with the rank of senior master sergeant said that he would have the tattoos on his right arm removed in compliance with the PNP’s latest directive.

The policeman, who identified himself as alias JP, said he has no problem with the PNP’s order, which he said is fair.

“Whether we admit it or not, in the Philippines, uniformed personnel who have tattoos are not yet totally accepted. The public looks at them differently,” he said in an interview with reporters.

The police officer entered the PNP in 2009 and had his tattoo in 2013 for P6,000. He said he has started saving money as the removal of the tattoos costs P30,000.– Emmanuel Tupas

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