Lawmaker insists: Anti-loitering drive criminalizing poverty
Rep. Sarah Elago of the Kabataan party-list group echoed allegations that the anti-crime operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were targeting poor people, despite a strong denial from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
They are making poverty a crime,” she said in Filipino during a forum at the University of the Philippines on Saturday. “Those without jobs, those who are merely want to get a breath of fresh air outside their houses are being arrested. That is clearly anti-poor. Instead of focusing on countering poverty, they have criminalized poverty itself.”
In a previous report, Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, NCRPO director, said that the operations did not target the poor in particular.
He pointed out that in posh and highly urbanized areas there were no loiterers.
“There are no loiterers in those areas, nobody drinking in public,” he said in Filpino. “In closed villages, there are security guards who act as force multipliers who help us.”
According to Eleazar, tambays are not automatically arrested, unless they have violated a certain ordinance.
However, Elago said that all of the arrested individuals come from poor backgrounds.
“The crackdown on loiterers is against the poor. Who else but the poor are arrested?” Elago said.
She said the government should just focus on eradicating poverty, which would effectively reduce the number of loiterers.
“We call on the government to do away with apprehending bystanders and instead respond to the issue on why there are lots of loiterers.” she said. /atm
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