Bill filed to stop naming rob gangs after hometowns
MANILA, Philippines—Two congressmen-brothers from Mindanao want to put a stop to the police practice of naming notorious criminal gangs after a hometown, a region and a religious or ethnic community.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his younger brother, Abante Mindanao Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, sought the ban on the discriminatory practice through House Bill No. 3691.
“This practice of designating gangs after the hometown or region where the suspected members belong is very discriminatory and casts a bad reputation on the place or region as well as on the whole population there who are not members of the gangs,” the brothers said in a statement.
The older Rodriguez cited the cases of two of the most infamous criminal groups in the country—the Waray-Waray and Ozamiz gangs—whose names unduly cast the Waray people from the Visayas as well as residents of Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental province in a bad light.
“The place becomes notorious to the detriment and prejudice of its residents who are innocent,” the older Rodriguez said.
The lawmaker noted that crime remained a major problem in the country with numerous incidents of robbery committed by gangs.
Under the Constitution, he said, it is the prime duty of the government to serve and protect the people.
But this does not justify naming the crime groups after their ethnic affiliations or hometowns, the older Rodriguez said.
HB 3691, now pending at the House committee on public order and safety, seeks to “protect the residents of a community from the notoriety” cast on their place by its identification with a particular gang.
It provides that the Philippine National Police or any person or group shall not designate gangs by their hometowns, regions or religious or ethnic community or “anything which would stain the reputation or otherwise would cause prejudice or result in the detriment of innocent members of that community.”
Among other gangs that have earned notoriety because of their identification with regions or communities are the Bicol Region Masbate gang, the Batang Mindanao 29 gang, the Batang Samar Leyte carnapping syndicate operating in the Camanava and Binondo areas, and the Waray-Waray and Ozamiz robbery groups in Metro Manila.
Any violation of the proposed law would incur the penalty of prision correccional, or a jail term ranging from six months to six years. With a report from Inquirer Research