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For some, a tattoo gives a negative image because it is still associated with convicts. As such, there is no denying that this skin marking arouses distrust and suspicion.

Take the case of Tommy Forbes who has a “UFO and aliens” tattoo on the

lower right side of his back. At the height of typhoon “Quinta” this week, the 26-year-old and a companion broke into a hardware store in Ibabang Dupay, Lucena City through its roof.

The burglars carted away P58,000 worth of items from the store.

Hardware employees learned of the break-in when they reported for work. They immediately reported it to the police who conducted an investigation.

While some guys with tattoos can be bad news to victims, like the hardware store, such markings sometimes serve the latter well. When the hardware store’s CCTV camera was examined by police investigators, the tattoo of one of the burglars gave him away.

With Forbes identified, police came to arrest him at his home near the store. The crime has been solved though the suspect’s accomplice remains at large.

At the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, inmates belonging to gangs pose a headache to wardens. Last 9 October, rival gangs figured in a riot that killed nine prisoners.

According to Bureau of Corrections chief director general Gerald Banta, violent clashes between rival prison gangs erupt to avenge the harm done against members.

To discourage such violence, Banta launched Oplan “Bura Tatak” wherein tattoos of the names of gangs on inmates are erased. The official believes that without the gang affiliation markings, inmates would not be able to easily identify rival gang members for targeting.

Erasing tattoos, however, does not mean removing the ink from the skin. When professional tattooist conducted the “Bura Tatak” at the NBP, they just covered the tattoo of the gangs’ names with black ink.

One inmate commented that it’s better to have such a spot to avoid getting into trouble with other gangs.

It remains to be seen if “Bura Tatak” will work at minimizing gang violence inside the NBP. With prisoners having many tattoos on different parts of their body, they can still be easily identified by their other markings.

“Bura Tatak” would not be practical if it will erase all the tattoos on every inmate’s body. Besides being costly and painful, prisoners end up spotty like Dalmatians.

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