MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte sought to allay concerns about his order against "tambays" or loiterers, saying that anyway, people are not getting arrested after he issued his directive.
"Tapos 'yung utos ko sa pulis na 'yung mga tambay, sundin lang 'nyo 'yung utos ko. Wala namang inaaresto," he said on Wednesday, June 20.
(My order to police about loiterers, just follow my order. No one is getting arrested.)
Since Duterte repeated his order on "tambays" on June 13, police have arrested at least 2,981 people for supposedly loitering in the streets while allegedly violating city ordinances on curfews, public smoking, public nudity, and drinking in the streets.
A group of 6 was also detained by police in Makati City while they were waiting outside their friend's home, raising questions about how authorities would define "tambay" given Duterte's order.
The President on Wednesday said he was inspired to give that order to police because he wants to make the country "as safe" as Davao City, his hometown where he served as mayor for more than two decades.
"Masunod ko lang 'yang Davao sa lahat okay na, komportable na tayo (If I can just replicate Davao for the whole country, we'd be comfortable). That's the kind of life I want for every Filipino. You can walk around, park to rural," said Duterte.
Davao City has won recognition for being among the safest cities in the world, but has also been ground zero for reports on extrajudicial killings carried out by the so-called Davao Death Squad.
In his Wednesday speech, Duterte repeated with gusto his warning against criminals he catches loitering.
"Hindi 'yan para sa kriminal, putang ina kayo. Huwag kayong magpakita diyan kasi kayo ang walang katuwiran na magpasyal-pasyal kasi kung makita kita, madampot kita, ayun na 'yung last pasyal mo," said the President.
(The streets are not for criminals, you sons of bitches. Don't show yourself because you don't have the right to walk around, and if I see you, I'll seize you and that will be your last stroll.)
No national law criminalizes loitering after the revision of the penal code during the previous administration. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said arrests of loiterers must have legal basis. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.