NOTES FROM THE EDITOR - Singkit (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2018 - 12:00am

That term was coined by my colleague to refer to the strolls I’d take every so often around the newsroom. Because of a lingering lower back problem, I would get up from my desk every 20 minutes or so and take a short walk – on doctors’ orders, the caveat being not to sit practically immobile before the computer for long periods. On these walks I’d stop by her desk for a “Howdy-doo” and she would invariably answer, “You’re making tra-la-la again?”

Much to my chagrin, my tra-la-la is now being equated with tambay or loitering, and I was even being threatened with arrest before I pointed out that Republic Act 10158 had decriminalized loitering. Besides, a directive clarified that tambays are only to be accosted and arrests made only for violation of city or municipal ordinances on offenses such as drinking in public, smoking in public, going around half-naked and causing alarm and scandal. Since I was certainly not guilty of any of those offenses, my colleague said she would pass a newsroom ordinance banning tra-la-la.

Those local ordinances have been there for a long time, with nobody paying them any mind, for how can you prohibit folks from hanging around the neighborhood basketball court when it’s probably so hot and crowded in their houses. But one fine day, on a word from the President, it became top priority to enforce these ordinances and accost/arrest violators, those shirtless guys hanging out at the kanto who were probably wondering why they were being picked up for doing something they’ve been doing every day and night.

That they are potentials for trouble is, in some cases, probably true; at the very least they’re not conducive to an atmosphere of safety and peace in the neighborhood. But if a guy goes out to buy phone load or the proverbial suka (vinegar) and lingers at the sari-sari store to shoot the breeze on a warm summer night, is that a violation?

The anti-tambay campaign has been expanded to include minors “for their own safety,” and they would be turned over to the barangay or the DSWD, which is looking to build shelters to house these minors. I wonder if sampaguita vendors and the kids running around the streets knocking on car windows will be included in these operations.

The police chief has ordered his commanders all over the country not to use the term tambay – but the President said to call them tambays since that is what they are – in order not to confuse or offend (his recommended term is the innocuous “persons apprehended for violating city ordinances”). Perhaps he’d like to instead use the term tra-la-la…

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