The Philippines’ poorly paid police have been warned they will be sacked if they sell their new semi-automatic pistols, a spokesman for the corruption-plagued force said on Thursday.
The Glock pistols currently being distributed to tens of thousands of officers cost about twice as much as an entry-level salary in the force, and there are fears that the guns could end up on the black market.
“This is a very attractive gun, and many unscrupulous businessmen would be interested in getting hold of them,” national police spokesman senior superintendent Reuben Sindac said. “This [warning] is just to preempt our policemen from even thinking about it.”
Sindac said national police chief Alan Purisima issued the warning this week, telling his officers they would be sacked and charged with the criminal offence of misusing government money if they pawned their weapons.
This came after Philippine President Benigno Aquino III announced on Tuesday that 75,000 officers — or half the cash-strapped police force — would finally be given pistols after going without officially issued weapons for years.
Many new police recruits previously borrowed to buy their own guns and spent their first three years on the job paying these debts back, Aquino said.
The lowliest Filipino policeman’s monthly salary is about 21,000 pesos (US$480), which is roughly half the legal market price for the new Glocks, Sindac said.
The salary is above the poverty level, but it leaves them little free cash on top of the money spent on family needs.
The low salaries are one of the reasons the police force has a reputation for being corrupt, although graft is a major problem through most branches of government.