PNP campaign vs ‘tambays’ a human rights violation, says party-list group
Lawmakers from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list called the Philippine National Police (PNP) campaign against ‘tambays’ or people loitering at night a violation of human rights.
“The people have the right to refuse to come with the police in invitations, they have the right to remain silent and to a counsel. To detain people without telling them the crime they supposedly committed violates human rights,” Representative Antonio Tinio said in a statement on Tuesday.
“It should be clear to law enforcers and to President [Rodrigo] Duterte a person cannot be arrested on mere suspicion that he or she is up to no good or could be a potential criminal. A verbal order from the President is not enough basis for any arrest,” he added.
Tinio was referring to a directive of President Duterte, who had warned against bystanders for allegedly being the cause of crime in the streets.
The president’s move was met with criticisms, as Tinio and Representative France Castro, along with other lawmakers, compared it to 1972 Martial Law.
“Is this directive in preparation for a nationwide martial law? What is happening now is already martial law-like where people get nabbed in the middle of the night because it’s beyond curfew time,” Castro said, referring to the practice of discipling bystanders during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
“In the first place, President Duterte and law enforcers are not above the law, they should be the first to enforce and follow our laws,” Tinio said.
Malacañang has defended President Duterte’s desire to apprehend “tambays”, saying that it was only meant to deter crime.
PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde also said there is nothing different or alarming with the president’s orders, as it has been done even before he headed the police force.
According to PNP, more than 3,000 tambays have been arrested in Metro Manila in five days, due to the intensified drive for peace and order.
Meanwhile, Tinio said arrested individuals need not prove their innocence — instead, authorities should prove that there is a reason for these people to be arrested.
”In defending the order and operations against ‘tambays’, citizens victimized are already put in the disadvantaged position where they have to prove that they are innocent via cases against the police, habeas corpus and or amparo cases,” he said.
“It should be the other way around—’innocent til proven guilty’ starts from the very first act of the police,” he added.
On the other hand, Castro said loiterers cannot be arrested, first because vagrancy has been decriminalized by amending the Revised Penal Code, and second, individuals cannot be arrested without warrants.
“Vagrancy has already been decriminalized through R.A. 10158, and the Supreme Court has long ruled against obligatory invitations by the PNP. The police certainly cannot simply nab and most especially lock up people who refuse to their ‘invitation,” she said.
“Most ordinances do not even warrant arrests or invitations to the precincts. Those who are caught loitering are only often warned, asked for clarifications or asked to go home,” she added.
For Castro, all the energy that the current administration is putting into apprehending tambays should instead be placed for the formulation of measures that would improve the quality of life of poor Filipinos.
“Instead of arresting ‘tambays’ for potential criminal activities, the President should prioritize policies that would help the people to have job security, decent wages and access to quality education,” she said.
The lawmaker also questioned the president regarding the existence of “tambays”, saying that poverty is still the root of this problem.
“Bakit ba may mga tambay? Bakit ba may mga nalululong sa droga? Sila kadalasan ay mga biktima ng kahirapan, kawalan sa kalidad na edukasyon at kawalan ng disente at seguridad sa trabaho,” Castro said.
“Kailangan makita ni Pangulong Duterte ang kahalagahan ng pagsasabatas ng mga polisiyang matutugunan ang pangunahing problema ng bansa,” she added. /vvp
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