Palace ready for Congress inquiry on 'tambay' crackdown

By Genalyn Kabiling

The government is prepared to face any congressional inquiry into the controversial police crackdown against loiterers or idlers breaking the law.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque speaks during a press briefing at the New Executive Building in Malacanang, Friday. (CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN) Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the Palace respects the Congress' prerogative to conduct inquiries, adding the government has nothing to hide about its peace and order campaign.

"May kapangyarihan ang Kamara na magkaroon ng ganyang imbestigasyon lalong lalo na dahil it will be in aid of investigation ," Roque said during a press conference in Cagayan de Oro City.

"We always welcome any congressional inquiry. Wala pong tinatago ," he said.

Roque made clear that President Duterte's directive to the police was to accost, not arrest, those loitering in the streets to keep peace and order in the communities.

Only those violating city ordinances would be arrested by the police, he added.

"Kung wala kang ginagawang kasalanan, paglabag sa kahit anong batas, hindi ka naman pupuwedeng hulihin. Iyan po ay police visibility at iyon po ay talaga namang isang pamamaraan para po maiwasan ang krimen ,” Roque said in a television interview.

Senator Bam Aquino has called for an investigation into the government's latest crackdown on tambays or those loitering in the streets following the death of a detainee while in police custody.

Aquino, in Resolution 722, said there was a need to review the police campaign against tambays, which he claimed was discriminatory and anti-poor.

A similar call for a congressional probe was made by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.

Genesis Argoncillo, who was nabbed in a police operation against tambays, died while in police custody. He was reportedly beaten to death by fellow inmates. The family of Argoncillo, however, has accused the police of inhumane treatment that led to his death.

The President earlier directed the police to be strict against those loitering in the streets, saying these potential troublemakers should be asked to return to their houses.