By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte clarified that he never ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest tambays or street idlers but only told the police to tell them to go home.
The President made the statement following controversies in his anti-tambay drive, including the puzzling death of an inmate, and the arrest of a shirtless man who just stepped out of his home, both in Quezon City.
In a speech in Davao City, Duterte insisted twice that he never ordered the PNP to arrest idlers.
“I never said arrest them, napakaga-gago (such idiots). Why don’t you just listen, i-rewind mo ‘yung sinabi ko (rewind what I said),” he said Friday evening.
“Sinabi ko (I said) [tell them], ‘You go home. Do not congregate,'” he added.
Duterte was referring to his speech in Malacañang on June 13, 2018 where he first directive to the PNP to be strict against loiterers.
“Ang mga criminal dapat diyan, ang mga durugista (Criminals, drug addicts), they are not supposed to be there [on the streets]. So my directive is ‘pag mag-istambay-istambay diyan sa, sabihin niyo, ‘Umuwi kayo. Kay ‘pag hindi kayo umuwi ihatid ko kayo doon sa opisina ni ano — Pasig [River] (So my directive is if you people idling on the streets, tell them to go home or you’ll bring them to my office),” Duterte said on June 13.
Duterte’s anti-tambay directive has resulted to the arrest of at least 7,000 people in Metro Manila alone, according to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO). Malacañang said that this figure most likely listed mostly violators of ordinances.
In his Friday evening speech, Duterte acknowledged that loitering is not a crime. However, he said that as the nation’s father, he can arrest loiterers if he thinks people need protection, especially women who can become victims of sexual abuse by loiterers.
“‘Yung ginawa ng mga istambay diyan? Pagdaan ng mga babae (But loitering… what idlers would do, when women pass by them)…” Duterte said, recalling his time when he used to drive a taxi at night when he was still Davao City mayor.
“Of course I can accost you. Sabihin ko (I’ll ask you), ‘What are you doing here?’ if you are a minor. Under the power of parens patriae, you are the father of the nation. You can always give an advice for people kagaya ng (like) minors,” he added.
Parens patriae refers to the principle that political authority carries with it the responsibility for the protection of citizens.
Duterte also dared the critics of his anti-tambay directive to question its legality at the Supreme Court (SC).
“If you are unruly, talagang sabihin ko ‘uwi ka o hindi arestado ka (I will really tell them, go home or get arrested).’ That is a police power of the state. Let them contest it sa (at the) Supreme Court,” he said.
“Bawalan niyo ako? Sige. Larga kayong lahat. Lahat ng gustong mamasyal. Lahat ng holdaper sige lumabas kayo. Bigyan ko kayo until the end of the year. Do it. Tingnan natin (You’ll forbid me? OK. Everyone who wants to go out, go out. Even holduppers, go ahead. I will give you until the end of the year. Do it. Let’s see what happens),” he added.
Duterte then reiterated that he never ordered for loiterers to be arrested.
“I never said ‘arrested.’ But if you are drinking diyan sa alley, ‘yung mga (there in the alleys in the) squatters area, if you are there making a sala (violation) out of the road there. Huhulihin talaga (You will really be arrested),” he said.
“Para malaman na nitong mga u*** na constitutionalists na ito (So these fools of constitutionalists know) that loitering is not a crime. Of course it is not,” he added.