President Rodrigo Duterte told off his detractors for not listening well to his speech which caused an uproar over the “tambay” issue and clarified he never ordered law enforcement agents to arrest street loiterers.
Duterte said that, as a lawyer, he was fully aware of the rights of every person and clearly stated under the constitution that “tambay” or loitering was not a crime, but explained there were ordinances to be followed.
“They are not listening these f….k,” the President said in his profanity-laden speech during this year’s National Information and Communications Technology Summit in Davao.
“I never said arrested (sic). But if you are drinking in the alley, in the squatters’ area. If you are there, making a sala out of the road there, I’ll have you arrested. Here in Davao, you cannot see [anyone] doing it,” Duterte said.
“You know, for them to be aware, these constitutionalists, that loitering is not a crime. Of course, it is not,” the President told his audience at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City Friday night.
Duterte said as the “father of the nation,” he could still order the arrest of loiterers especially those “unruly” who might pose danger to other people especially women and children.
“Of course I can accost you. I would say, ‘what are you doing here?’ If you are a minor under the power of parens patriae, you are the father of the nation, you can always give an advice for people like minors,” he said.
Parens patriae is a Latin phrase for “father of the nation” which refers to the principle that a political authority carries the responsibility of the protection of the citizens.
“So I said: if you are unruly go home or I'll arrest you; that is a police power of the state,” he added.
He stressed that efforts to rid the streets of loiterers could help lessen crime and maintain peace and order, especially since the problem on illegal drugs “has become far worse.”
Meanwhile, lawmen said they arrested 417 individuals in the southern part of Metro Manila in line with the government’s continuing campaign against loiterers on the streets aimed to ensure a peaceful community.
In related developments:
• Labor contractualization should be blamed for the proliferation of loiterers in the country, labor groups said Saturday as they criticized recent arrests of tambays or those lingering idly on the streets.
“Those idle Filipinos should have jobs. If they don’t have jobs, they will just spend their time loitering and chatting with their neighbors,” Pepsi Cola Workers Association vice president Ricardo Gandalla told reporters.
Contractual employees fear that they would be easy targets of operations to clear the streets of loiterers as they have more idle time than regular workers, said Ed Cubelo, chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno Metro Manila.
• Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, meanwhile, slammed mandatory drug testing for grade 4 pupils, ROTC and the anti-tambay campaign of the Duterte administration during its 32nd-anniversary commemoration at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila.
Former DSWD secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Australian nun Patricia Fox, retired Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez Jr, and more than 300 child rights advocates, day-care workers and children from different child-focused organizations and institutions participated in the event.
“Duterte’s fascist rule makes Filipino children more vulnerable to abuses. He started it by assuring the police of protection while conducting operations which claimed the lives of about 44 children. Now he wants to bring the his Oplan Tokhang to schools by requiring pupils as young as 9 years old.” said Eule Rico Bonganay, Salinlahi national secretary general.
Elements of the Southern Police District and local police stations conducted the simultaneous operations from 5 pm last Friday until 5 am Saturday in the cities of Muntinlupa, Taguig, Makati, Pasay, Parañaque and Las Piñas, and the town of Pateros.
SPD spokesperson Jenny Tecson said most of those brought to the police stations violated the curfew on minors with 172 the total number of apprehension followed by drinking in public (79) and smoking in public places (77).
The authorities also arrested 38 men, caught half-naked, while others were arrested for urinating in public.
In Makati City, police arrested four persons for illegal gambling
The suspects were identified as Gary Alajas, 35, resident of Block - 206 Lot 19 Sampaloc Street, Barangay Pembo; Victorino Reyes, 54, of Emerald Street, Saint Marry Homes, Almazan, Las Pinas City, Arnold Fabales, 42, also a resident of Barangay Pembo, all construction workers, and Arts Abangan, 36, tricycle driver and a native of Calumpang Naval Biliran, Leyte.
The President urged critics to question the Anti-“Tambay” Operations of the police at the Supreme Court, as he emphasized the state’s police power to protect families.
Duterte issued the challenge following what he said was an assumption of a certain senator over the government’s action against street loiterers or “tambays”, branding the policy as bereft of legal basis.
Duterte said the policy aimed to protect the people against crimes, especially with the prevalence of illegal drugs.
“When the monkey rides on the back and starts scratching, the craving is there. They have to have the fix and they will commit crimes,” he said, reminding the public that the use of “shabu” produces bizarre and violent behavior.
Citing a recent Social Weather Stations survey, the President said people were afraid when they go out of their houses.
“Because all day, a person would be thinking that somebody would break into the house and steal his possession. Or if he has children, he is worried that a maniac would go there and do the unimaginable,” he pointed out.
Duterte cited that about 58 percent of those surveyed were worried about street crimes, including robbery inside public transportation.
In an earlier interview on Friday, Philippine National Police Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said a “tambay” would not be arrested unless there was a violation of an ordinance or a law.
He said most of those arrested had violated ordinances and laws on drinking liquor in public places, non-wearing of shirts in public, smoking in non-smoking areas, and playing loud karaoke beyond 10 pm.
“It has become controversial because the President said it. There were arrests because there were violations of ordinances,” Albayalde told reporters in Davao early this week.
Despite criticisms, the national police chief said he did not plan to stop the anti-“tambay” operation because it did not violate the law.
Albayalde highlighted the positive feedback from communities, whose residents said they felt safer, especially those going home from work in the evening or reporting for a night-shift duty.
Last Tuesday, SPD chief Tomas Apolinario Jr. ordered the relief of two Makati City policemen for alleged mishandling of persons arrested for violating local ordinances.
Relieved were Sr. Insp. Aaron Elago, commander of Makati City-Police Community Precinct - 7, and SPO2 James Teano, desk officer of the same police precinct. Elago was replaced by Chief Insp. Romeo Vasquez.
The incident involving the two police officers went viral on social media.
Apolinario said the two relieved officers were reassigned to the police station’s Holding Section “following a report of an alleged abuse of discretion of authority when they rounded up night idlers or “tambay” and brought them to their police precinct for verification even without valid violation of City Ordinances.”
Apolinario said the SPD was supporting the government’s campaign initiated by Duterte to go against idlers to get rid of people loitering in the streets, especially at night.
“But we won’t tolerate our personnel from going beyond their authority expected of them,” he said.
Apolinario, however, clarified that the relief from their posts and the reassignment of the two policemen “does not mean that they are already guilty but to pave way to the investigation being conducted by District Investigation Unit.
Metro Manila police director Guillermo Eleazar also reminded his men that they should arrest only those who would violate municipal or city ordinances like Urinating and Drinking in Public Places, Half Naked, Making Loud Noise, and Curfew of Minors, among others.
However, the authorities clarified that the police could question any suspicious person loitering but not necessarily violating any specific above cited ordinance regarding their presence and business in the area.
These persons, according to Eleazar, should not be apprehended but instead, be advised to be cautious or rather leave the area so as not to be victimized by lawless elements.
“We welcome and even encourage the public to report abuses by the police under the maxim that the public is the police, the police is the public. A wide range of media has been available to the public and we assure that all reports will be acted upon,” he said.
A total of 7,291 people were apprehended from June 13 to June 20 in police operations launched after President Duterte ordered authorities to step up the campaign against loiterers on the streets. With PNA