“The Philippine National Police (PNP) is conducting a ‘crime prevention’ campaign that essentially jails low-income Filipinos for being in public,” said Phelim Kine, HRW deputy Asia director.
Edd Gumban
PNP urged to end arrest of tambays
Jose Katigbak STAR Washington bureau (The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged police authorities in the Philippines to immediately end a campaign that disproportionately targets tambays or loiterers who congregate on city streets in poor neighborhoods.

“The Philippine National Police (PNP) is conducting a ‘crime prevention’ campaign that essentially jails low-income Filipinos for being in public,” said Phelim Kine, HRW deputy Asia director.

“This campaign threatens to re-traumatize residents of communities already terrorized by ‘drug war’ executions and is risking the detainees’ health and safety,” he said, adding that it also violates the basic rights of all Filipinos.

The New York City-based HRW in a report last Tuesday noted that in the past two weeks police have arrested more than 8,000 tambays and held many in detention facilities already overcrowded due to mass surrenders of drug suspects linked to President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.

Typically they are not brought before a judge but detained for a period and then released, HRW said, though sometimes criminal charges are filed.

The report added that police have focused the anti-loitering campaign in the same communities that have been the epicenter of drug-war killings.

More than 12,000 people have been killed in the drug war since mid-2016, the international non-governmental organization said.

There are indications that the police enforcement of the anti-loitering campaign is arbitrarily ensnaring Filipinos who are lawfully on the streets at night, the HRW report said.

But the Duterte administration has sought to counter criticism by insisting that it is merely pursuing a legitimate crime-prevention campaign and that it will not affect citizens who do not violate the law.

In Manila, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said it was planning to build community shelters for street children, as the administration expands its campaign against tambay to include minors.

HRW, in a letter, also urged PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde to allow independent investigations into alleged abuses and ensure that all police officers responsible for extrajudicial killings and other crimes are held accountable.  

“(Albayalde’s) fundamental challenge is to transform the (PNP) from deadly predators to genuine protectors of public safety and rule of law,” said Kine. 

“Albayalde should demonstrate that he’s serious about ‘respect for human rights’ by stopping summary killings by police and bringing those responsible to justice,” added Kine.

HRW highlighted the deadly toll of attacks by motorcycle-riding gunmen. Police data indicate that 880 people have been shot dead in such attacks between October 2017 and last month, but that police have arrested only 63 suspects.  – With Rhodina Villanueva

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE TAMBAYS
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