“The President’s tambay remarks simply means he wants a strict enforcement of city ordinances as part of making our streets safe from criminals and other unscrupulous elements,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said.
Crackdown vs tambays to make streets safe — Palace
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - June 17, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The crackdown on tambays (loiterers) is meant to help law enforcers improve their maintenance of peace and order in the country, Malacañang said yesterday.

Parrying criticisms that the directive is reminiscent of martial law, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said every Filipino deserves to be safe in the streets.

“The President’s tambay remarks simply means he wants a strict enforcement of city ordinances as part of making our streets safe from criminals and other unscrupulous elements,” he said.

Roque added that the call was more for crime prevention than anything else.

“Hence, the President’s remarks are for the police to ask those who stay late at night in the streets to go home. Now, should they be arrested if they refuse? The President as a lawyer knows that if no crime has been committed, there is no basis for arrest,” Roque said.

“But just the same, he would rather that those loitering should go home so that those people with bad intentions are thwarted,” he added.

In a speech last Wednesday, President Duterte directed top police officials to go after tambays.

“Do not be afraid to go after the criminals,” especially suspects in the streets, said Duterte. “Highways are – we built it for the law-abiding citizens.”

Duterte added that the police could bring those who won’t heed his call to Malacañang.

“Ang mga criminal dapat diyan, ang mga durugista, they are not supposed to be there. So my directive is ‘pag mag-istambay-istambay diyan sa, sabihin niyo, ‘umuwi kayo. ‘Pag hindi kayo umuwi ihatid ko kayo doon sa opisina ni ano – Pasig’ (Criminals and drug addicts, they are not supposed to be there. So my directive is, if they loiter in the streets, tell them to go home. If they don’t, say you will bring them to my office),” he said. 

“Ako ng bahala. Ilagay mo lang diyan. Talian mo ‘yung kamay pati–ihulog ko ‘yan diyan sa… (I will take care of it. Put them there. Tie their hands and – I will drop them…),” Duterte added.

“You be strict. Part of confronting people who do not do anything and just idling around, they are potential trouble for the public,” the President said.

For his part, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde yesterday allayed fears that the enforcement of Duterte’s directive against tambays will lead to human rights abuses.

 “Our police officers are covered by laws and they are aware that we are following police operational procedures. The respect for human rights is paramount,” Albayalde said in an interview over dzBB.

Duterte’s directive, however, did not sit well with some of his critics, among them Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin who warned of a possible repeat of the situation during martial law.

Albayalde said the campaign against loiterers has been ongoing even before Duterte issued his order.

He stressed that those who are caught face slight penalties as they are only violating ordinances.

For its part, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has warned the PNP against rounding up  loiterers on the streets. 

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said it is illegal to arrest those who are believed to be loiterers simply because they are “potential trouble for the public.”

“No one should be deprived of their freedom without going through due process mandated by the law,” she said in Filipino. 

“Unless a person commits an illegal act, there is no reason for him to be arrested,” she added. 

De Guia noted that the law prohibits warrantless arrests except in certain circumstances, adding that it is not right to identify all loiterers as criminals. 

“(The tambays) may simply be chatting with someone, standing outside to get fresh air or just passing through,” she said. 

De Guia said these are normal activities that Filipinos do, whether they have a job or not. 

Following Duterte’s order, at least 145 persons were rounded up for loitering during two separate anti-criminality operations in Manila since Friday night.

At total of 97 persons were rounded up and brought to the Manila Police District Station 2 after a simultaneous anti-criminality and law enforcement operation in Barangay 20 at Parola Compound.

Of those rounded up, five persons were arrested in possession of illegal drugs, according to Manila Police District Station 2 drug enforcement chief Edwin Fuggan.

At least 46 persons will be charged for violating the city ordinances against being half-naked and drinking in public, while the rest were let off upon verification that they have no criminal record, police said.

Of the 48 others rounded up by Tondo police in Smokey Mountain and Don Bosco last Friday night, 27 were arrested for city ordinance violations, while 12 were collared for possession of illegal drugs.

In Valenzuela City, three suspects were arrested for being drunk and unruly at a convenience store along Gen. Luis Street in Barangay Bagbaguin before dawn yesterday. – With Emmanuel Tupas, Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Janvic Mateo

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