By Ellson Quismorio
It’s high-time that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) ditched its “no tattoo rule” on potential recruits.
House appropriations committee chairman Davao City 1st district Rep. Karlo Nograles (first district, Davao City) had this to say today as he called such requirement for uniformed personnel “archaic.”
“For our military and police organizations to bar the entry of capable and well-meaning Filipinos in their ranks on the basis of tattoos is quite archaic, if only because tattoos are no longer taboo in this day and age. Thus, we call for the removal of this ban,” Nograles said.
Enlistment of a person baring tattoos is currently prohibited by the PNP, AFP and even the Coast Guard since they view such body markings as “physical defects” that “demerit or disqualify their application.”
“I know a lot of people who have been declined application into the service on the basis of their having tattoos. They said it felt unfair to be rejected and I can’t help but agree with them,” Nograles said.
According to the Davao-based lawmaker, it’s very wrong to automatically associate or judge tattooed individuals as being criminals, rebels, or undesirables for their organizations.
“Like the nonsensical minimum height requirement of at least five feet for both the military and police service, the no tattoo rule must be done away with for the simple reason that it is not a good measure of one’s capabilities or heart on the battlefield,” Nograles pointed out.
He said what’s important is for the applicant to be physically fit, with good moral character and no criminal record.
“If the applicant meets these requirements then he or she should not be denied the right to serve the country,” stressed Nograles, who is being groomed to be part of the administration’s Senate slate for the midterm elections next year.
If anything, Nograles said Philippine history is replete with instances of bravery by tattooed Filipino warriors in the face of foreign conquerors. This is because tattoos have been a part of the country’s rich culture even before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century.
“The Spanish conquistadores branded these Filipino warriors as the ‘pintados’ because of their ornate and at-times intimidating body markings. Ultimately, the foreigners admired these painted people for their fierceness and courage,” he said.
Best time to enlist
Nograles reckoned that this might also be the best time for Filipinos to join either the military or police, thanks in large part to the policy changes and projects that the Duterte administration implemented or has in the pipeline for the country’s uniformed personnel.
Earlier this year, President Duterte delivered on his promise to double the salaries of lowest ranked servicemen in the PNP and AFP, as well as its equivalent ranks in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Public Safety College, Philippine Coast Guard, and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.
The salaries of higher-ranked officers were also calibrated to reflect this significant increase in base pay, which was made possible by the House appropriations committee’s allocation of P64.24 billion for this purpose in the P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018.
Speaking of the 2018 budget, some P25 billion was also set aside to bankroll the continuing AFP modernization program.
Nograles said the program is bound to improve Filipino soldiers’ fighting capabilities in all aspects since it will cover land, air and sea upgrades for the AFP.
Forthcoming purchases under the modernization plan include 24 attack helicopters worth P13.8 billion; one fixed wing jet, P2 billion; and one turboprop patrol aircraft, P1.8 billion. There’s also the potential acquisition of 44 units of light attack tanks worth P9.4 billion, Nograles added.