EDITORIAL- Slimming down

EDITORIAL- Slimming down

Just days after Joseph Estrada assumed the presidency in 1998, he had ordered all members of the Philippine National Police to lose their potbellies and slim down. Keeping physically fit was in line with the program to instill police discipline. Estrada’s PNP chief Panfilo Lacson and Manila police chief Avelino Razon told cops to exercise, do pushups and even take up dancing.

Together with a crackdown on kotong or mulcting cops who victimized traffic offenders, Lacson launched a campaign against beer bellies in the PNP.

In June 2012, then PNP chief Nicanor Bartolome, an avid runner, reiterated the directive for cops to slim down. Earlier this week, PNP officer-in-charge Archie Gamboa revived the order, saying overweight cops would not be allowed to undergo training for purposes of new assignments and promotion. He said an overweight PNP general is now on a yogurt diet to comply with the order. It’s unclear if it was a complete joke.

Slimming down may be seen as mere cosmetic reform in an organization with numerous problems. Also, weight is not an accurate measure of a cop’s performance. Physical appearance, however, reflects the level of discipline in the PNP. As in the military, the police service is expected to put a premium on discipline within the ranks.

Everyone also performs better in good health, and keeping physically fit is a component of any health regimen. Maintaining the proper weight helps in optimum performance of tasks.

Overweight cops have been favorite subjects of caricatures denigrating the PNP. Losing weight may be a cosmetic change, but physically fit police officers enhance the image of the PNP. Ranking officers in particular must lead the way in showing that they have enough self-discipline to maintain a healthy weight, to go hand-in-hand with other reforms in the police service. Fat cops have nothing to lose – except excess weight.