PNP orders truce in ‘Battle of the Bulge’
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) has called a truce in its own ”Battle of the Bulge” after several members complained about being bypassed for promotion because they were overweight.
“I have already approved the recommendation to suspend the implementation of PNP Memorandum Circular 2020-029 which requires compliance with the Body Mass Index or BMI in our promotion system,” PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said in a statement on Tuesday.
BMI indicates a person’s ideal weight based on age and height.
“In approving this, we took into consideration the balance between the workload of all our personnel in [the midst of a] pandemic and the need for them to comply with this memorandum circular just to be promoted,” Eleazar said.
According to the PNP chief, the suspension is for the welfare of all police personnel, many of them tasked to enforce minimum public health safety standards and quarantine protocols 24/7.
But he said the policy would be reimplemented “once the situation gradually reverts to normal.”
Eleazar’s decision was based on a June 29 recommendation made by the PNP directorate for Personnel Records and Management chief, Police Maj. Gen. Rolando Hinanay. In a memo, Hinanay said the BMI requirement had deprived second-level police personnel — those between the ranks of Patrolman and Lieutenant Colonel — of promotions because “many of them were disqualified.”
Hinanay said his division had been deluged by complaints and requests for reconsideration from affected personnel. He cited a petition from the PNCO (police non-commissioned officers) Police Movement Organization which had called the policy “detrimental” and “a form of discrimination” against those who were above their ideal BMI.
“Though obesity is considered as one of the underlying comorbidities of COVID-19, it is advisable for the uniformed personnel to observe a gradual loss in their weight to avoid complications that may be brought by rapid weight loss,” Hinanay said.
He noted that the current situation in the country limited the conduct of “physical and outdoor activities,” thus preventing PNP personnel from achieving their required BMI.
Those assigned to the field also struggle to reach their ideal BMI “due to their work schedule in exigency of the service and the fight against COVID-19,” he added.
In pushing for the suspension of the BMI requirement, Hinanay quoted the unit’s mandate of “personnel welfare above all” and recommended a review of the policy.
The policy of making the ideal BMI a requirement for schooling and promotion was introduced by then PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa in January 2020 based on his observation that 46 percent of the force was overweight and obese.
Gamboa’s move was in line with Interior Secretary Eduardo Año’s directive to build a better physical and mental image of the PNP.
Eleazar’s predecessor, Gen. Debold Sinas, spearheaded a weight reduction program that he dubbed “Chubby Anonymous,” but only around 30 policemen joined the program.
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