By Martin Sadongdong
After a month of intensified operations against ordinance violators, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) on Friday announced that a total of 48,484 persons were either arrested, charged or fined from June 13 to July 13 as of 5 a.m.
NCRPO Director Guillermo Eleazar bared that smokers in public places topped the list of violators as a whopping 16,442 persons (33.91 percent) were arrested in Metro Manila during the said period.
It was followed by 7,450 minors (15.37 percent) who were taken into custody by authorities after violating the curfew ordinance, and 7,176 persons (14.80 percent) who roamed the streets without their shirts on (half-naked). Police also apprehended 5,761 drunks (11.88 percent), according to Eleazar.
The NCRPO chief added that 11,655 more (24.04 percent) were arrested for violating other ordinances such as urinating and spitting in public places; possession of bladed weapons; use of karaoke on the wee hours of the night; ban on barkers; and traffic-related regulations.
Most, least arrests
The Eastern Police District (EPD) has the most number of arrested ordinance violators with 22,440 (46.28 percent); while the Southern Police District (SPD) followed with 8,983 (18.53 percent).
The Manila Police District (MPD) recorded 6,786 arrests (14 percent); the Quezon City Police District with 6,055 (12.49 percent) and the Northern Police District with 4,220 (8.70 percent).
Where are they now?
According to Eleazar, not all the arrested violators were put behind bars since cops on the ground also used their sound judgment on what sanction will be given to them.
Of the total number of violators, 29,219 (60.27 percent) of them were only given warning since it was the first time that they have committed the offense. Warnings were given to violators who commit minor offenses.
Meanwhile, 13,745 violators (28.35 percent) were fined with the money going to the concerned local government unit’s treasury. The remaining 5,520 (11.39 percent) violators were charged before local courts.
However, Eleazar clarified that only 45 violators — 26 from the QCPD and 19 from the SPD — remain under police custody as others have already posted bail or finished serving their sentence. Those charged can either post bail or serve jail time for 2 weeks to one month depending on the gravity of the offense they have committed.
The arrest of “tambays” or street loiterers was ordered by President Duterte in a speech on June 13 after he labeled them as potential troublemakers. This elicited mixed reactions from the public with some suporting it while others saying it was an anti-poor policy.
Concerns were immediately raised as the possibility of police abuse and warrantless arrests were feared, aside from the fact that being a “tambay” does not equate to committing a crime. In fact, vagrancy had already been decriminalized since 2012. The lack of clear parameters on how the arrests will be made also added to the concerns of the public.
Issues hounding the campaign against ordinance violators were further sparked by the death of Genesis Argoncillo, who was arrested on June 15 in Novaliches, Quezon City and beaten black and blue at the Quezon City Police District Station 4. He ended up dead four days after his arrest.
Makati cops also made a “wrong” arrest when they apprehended a call center agent who was waiting for a ride to work after he was mistaken for being a tambay. Cops involved in the operation were immediately ordered relieved.
As the arrests and issues pile up, Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), assured the public that they will not be arrested for merely being a tambay and only those ordinance violators were actually arrested.
He even issued a directive banning the cops from using the term “tambay” in their reports so as not to give a bad connotation in their intensified campaign against ordinance violators.
After a week of the implementation of the campaign, the PNP released to the public a copy of Albayalde’s order to his ground commanders, noting how they could properly handle the apprehensions of ordinance violators by following the Police Operational Procedure (POP).