By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang assured the public that there are legal remedies if they will be arrested by the police amid President Duterte’s order for law enforcers to be strict against loiterers.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after a viral social media post of call center agent in Makati City said that they were brought to the police station when they were only waiting for their friend over the weekend.
Roque, in his Monday morning press briefing, reminded the public that there are established mechanisms stated in the Constitution that people can exercise against the police who will act “in excess of authority.”
“Unang-una po, ‘pag ang mamamayan ay inaresto at hindi naman kinasuhan, maaaring kasuhan ng kriminal for illegal detention ‘yung ating kapulisan (First, if a citizen is arrested and is not charged, he can criminally charge the police for illegal detention),” he explained.
“Pangalawa, bilang remedy, meron naman tayong existing remedy na pwedeng gamitin ng mabilisan—‘yung Habeas Corpus po mabilisan yan. At tsaka meron pa tayong Writ of Amparo ngayon (We have remedies that can be immediately used–the Habeas Corpus and the Writ of Amparo),” he added.
The Writ of Habeas Corpus directs law enforcers to produce a prisoner and justify his detention. If the prisoner is able to argue successfully that his detention violates his constitutional rights, the court may order his release.
The Writ of Amparo, on the other hand, protects other fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution but not covered by the Writ of Habeas Corpus.
“Institutionalized na po ‘yan. Nandiyan ang Bill of Rights. Kung walang basehan ‘yan, eh nandyan naman po ang ating hukuman (Those are already institutionalized. The Bill of Rights is there. If the arrest has no basis, then the courts are there to act),” Roque said.
Meanwhile, Roque also said that the person arrested can also file civil damages against the policeman in case trauma cannot be reversed.
Data from the National Capital Region Police Office shows that since Duterte announced his order, 2,981 individuals have been arrested in Metro Manila for violation of city and municipality ordinances.
No reason to be alarmed
Meanwhile, Roque said that people should not be alarmed about the President’s order, especially if they do not have a negative record or reputation in their community.
“I think, kung hindi ka naman identified doon sa komunidad na talagang walang ginagawa kundi tumambay lamang, wala kayong dapat ipangamba (if you are not identified in your community as someone who does nothing but idle around, you have nothing to worry about),” he said.
On the other hand, Roque said that the police still must have legal basis before making an arrest.
“Either alam ng pulis, meron silang personal knowledge na talaga itong tao na ito ay talagang tambay at meron na sigurong negative record (Either the police have personal knowledge that this person really is a loiterer with a negative record),” he said.
“It’s a case to case to case basis po kaya mahirap talagang magkomento (that’s why it’s hard to comment). It really depends on where you are,” he added.
For crime prevention
Meanwhile, Roque reiterated that Duterte’s order against loiterers mainly aims to prevent crime and to boos and promote police visibility in communities.
Roque said that the President finds it important for the police to also enforce local ordinances in order to promote peace and order in cities or municipalities.
“Ang sinasabi lang niya, patuparin natin ang ordinansa dahil importante rin na bantayan itong mga tambay para maiwasan rin ang paggagawa ng krimen (What he’s saying is we should enforce these ordinance because it is also important that we look after these loiterers, and also to prevent crime),” he said.
“So in other words, it’s really police visibility and trying to take steps to ensure that the public knows that the police is present, and that if they are engaged in any conspiracy to commit crimes, nandiyan po ang ating mga kapulisan (the police are there),” he added.
“Ang aming construction lang po diyan (Our construction there is) that’s crime prevention through police visibility,” he continued.
President Duterte ordered the police to be strict against loiterers days after he announced that there will be “radical changes” to address the problem of criminality in the country.