Philippine President Benigno Aquino hands a new Glock 17 Generation 4 pistol to a police woman during a distribution ceremony of the pistols to Philippine National Police (PNP) officers at the police headquarters in Manila July 2, 2013. Image Credit: Reuters

Manila: As soon as the national police were issued new pistols as part of the force’s modernisation programme, Police Director General Alan Purisima reminded officers not to pawn their weapons or risk being kicked out of the service and charged.

“These service firearms are government property,” said Purisima during ceremonies on Thursday where he, President Benigno Aquino III and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas handed the new weapons to some members of the Philippine National Police (PNP). “So I think it is both morally and legally wrong to include these as pawned items.”

There had been earlier reports that some policemen who are hard up for money resort to pawning their government-issued weapons. Purisima said those days are over. “If we have to close down these pawnshops, so be it,” he said. “They would be held accountable for that.”

Purisma said the new pistols will be issued to new recruits as well as policemen assigned in the country’s tourist districts.

The national police had long suffered from lack of weapons and equipment and in the past policemen had to purchase their own pistols.

The government is undertaking a massive programme to provide weapons and equipment for the 148,000-strong PNP. Aquino had earlier approved a Php9 billion (Dh763 million) equipment acquisition programme that will see the procurement of guns, patrol cars and communication equipment for the national police.

During the ceremonies, 22,603 Glock 17 9mm Generation 4 pistols were handed over to the policemen. The new side arms are part of the 75,000 consignment that the government had purchased for Php1.2 billion.

Made out of polymer with metal working parts, the Glock safe-action pistol is currently in service in almost 60 per cent of national police forces and law enforcement agencies in Europe, America and Asia.

The new weapon will be used by the PNP together with the Beretta 92 9mm pistol, which had been in service with the PNP for more than a decade. These weapons replaced the .45 calibre model 1911 pistol, which had been used by the police force for several decades.