By Aaron Recuenco
Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), assured on Saturday of a full observation of human rights as it directs its attention on shooing away and even apprehending ‘istambay’ (bystanders) along the streets as part of anti-crime strategy.
Albayalde said police commanders down to the lowest ranking uniformed personnel are equipped with knowledge on basic police operational procedures and seminars and awareness training on human rights laws.
“Our policemen are covered by laws, they know our Police Operational Procedures and they know that respect for human rights are always paramount,” said Albayalde.
Policemen, he said, are also aware of negative implications if they dare to defy the existing laws and procedures, what with the discipline and internal cleansing- focus of the new PNP leadership.
Albayalde made the statements amid concerns of police abuses as the PNP focuses on ‘istambay’ who are usually being accused of being troublemakers in communities.
Istambay is a form of socialization, especially the youth, in a community. But it gained its derogatory meaning over the years to mean jobless, out-of-school youth and troublemakers.
The official said there have been numerous instances in the past wherein bystanders would hurt and even kill passersby who would refuse their offer for a drinking session.
In some cases, a group of drug-crazed istambay would just hurt or kill any person for no reason and would engage in various criminal offenses such as robbery.
“We have been doing this (shooing away and even apprehending istambay) for a long time now under Oplan RODY,” said Albayalde, recalling the time when he was still the head of the Metro Manila police force.
Rody is the nickname of President Duterte but its acronym based on police lingo means Rid the Streets of Drinkers and Youth.
The cops are using barangay, city and town ordinances in rounding up bystanders on the streets.
“What we are protecting here are the passersby. Those who going to work and school and heading back to home after the school and working hours,” said Albayalde.
In its implementation, Albayalde said there have been no reported abuses on the part of policemen.