RP police get haircuts and a dressing down from new chief

MANILA, Philippines, AP

The country’s new police chief trimmed two officers’ long hair during an inspection, and ordered police to wear anti-corruption pins as part of a tough campaign to change the shabby and corrupt image of the force, officials said Monday.

Edgar Aglipay vowed to crack down on crime and terrorism when he assumed the leadership of the 114,000-strong police force last week, and also pledged to improve its image by ordering officers to halt corruption, trim beer bellies and behave and dress well in public.

Inspecting more than 3,000 Manila police in a seaside park on Sunday, Aglipay noticed some officers with hair protruding from their caps, and drew a pair of scissors to snip clumps of hair off at least two men. Others got a dressing down for bulging tummies and were ordered to attend thrice-weekly aerobics classes.

“I told them we will not ask them to do something that we ourselves can’t do,” said Aglipay, a 55-year-old veteran police officer with a clean reputation and military-style haircut.

Aglipay also said police will soon be required to wear pins marked “No to kotong,” a Tagalog word for extortion, which motorists could point out if erring officers try to extract bribes from them for traffic violations.

Driving by the capital Monday, Aglipay saw two policemen lounging in their air-conditioned patrol car and promptly called and reprimanded their superior, he told radio station DZBB, stressing that police should be standing in the middle of a crowd to ensure public safety.

“Did you notice that when a VIP comes, policemen ready their mobile cars in a line and ensure that everything is safe?” Aglipay asked. “That’s what I want, but the VIP is not me or any Cabinet member. Our VIP should be the people.”

In two months, Aglipay said he would announce the first batch of provincial and regional officials to be relieved of their posts unless they cracked down on crime and corruption.

Last week, Aglipay threatened to banish abusive officers to an island or far-flung hinterlands for retraining and send corrupt ones to jail.