Many arrested ‘tambay’ can’t afford P200 fine
Many of the loiterers arrested by police were so poor they cannot even pay the fine of P200, Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta said on Wednesday.
The PAO chief said that while most of the 44 arrested in President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against “tambay” (street loiterers and vagrants) were able to post at least half of the P3,000 bail and were released by presiding Judge Allan Ariola, of the Pasay Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 48, many others could not even pay the minimal fine.
“We are already swamped with a number of cases, and these type of cases just add to it. But (the PAO) won’t let anyone be detained just because they are poor,” Acosta said, adding that vagrancy had been decriminalized with the passage of Republic Act No. 10158 in 2012.
The President’s crackdown on loitering and violators of city ordinances has resulted in a surge in the number of inmates both in police detention cells and city jails, with at least 7,000 arrested in the first week of the intensified police campaign that started on June 13.
City councils should review the ordinances they passed, Acosta said, adding that the police should “leave to the barangays” the rounding up of violators of city ordinances that forbid drinking in public or going around half-naked on the street.
In Lucena City, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) described as “illegal” President Duterte’s order for the police to frisk and take into custody teeners found loitering on the streets especially late at night.
In a statement on Wednesday, NUPL’s Edre Olalia maintained that “a President’s word is not the law. He is not even the law. Only a court of law, and not the President, may order a person arrested thru a warrant.”
The only exception allowed for a warrantless arrest, he added, is “when a person has just committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.”
Olalia challenged authorities to produce evidence that would prove that the thousands they had arrested or “accosted” for loitering were a threat to public health, public safety and public order.
“Without such evidence, those arrests and the President’s order to continue arresting tambays are flagrant violations of the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution, which was drawn up precisely to protect ordinary citizens—and most especially the poor—against such heavy-handedness of the State,” he said.
In Northern Mindanao, at least 300 individuals were arrested for various offenses, including the violation of curfew hours, drinking in prohibited places, altercation, and other local ordinances, according to Supt. Surki Sereñas, regional Philippine National Police spokesperson.
The purpose, he said was “to strengthen police presence in crime-prone areas and places of convergence (to deter) street crimes.”—WITH REPORTS FROM DELFIN T. MALLARI JR., JOSEPH SEBASTIAN JAVIER, ROSELIE MARI VILLAFLOR AND JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
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