Nearly 3,000 'tambays' arrested in Metro Manila since Duterte order

MANILA, Philippines – Almost 3,000 have been arrested in Metro Manila alone since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a crackdown on people standing idly by in the streets (tambays).

This was announced by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde in a Camp Crame press conference on Monday, June 18.

Since June 13, the PNP has arrested 2,981 people for supposedly loitering in the streets while allegedly violating city ordinances, Albayalde said.

Below is the breakdown:

The PNP also included in its total the cases of 138 alleged traffic violators. There are city ordinances against illegal parking and using cars banned under coding schemes.

The other 139, the PNP Public Information Office said, are illegal vendors, videoke curfew violators, students entering computer shops late at night, people who urinated in public places, illegal barkers, litterers, and those who supposedly disrupted public order.

The spike in arrests came after Duterte instructed cops to send loiterers home.

"[M]y directive is 'pag mag-istambay-istambay diyan, umuwi kayo.... 'Pag hindi kayo umuwi, ihatid ko kayo sa opisina ni ano," the President told a room full of newly promoted cops on June 13.

(My directive is if there are people standing idly by there, they should go home.... If they do not go home, I will bring them to the office of ––.)

It wasn't the first time, however, that Duterte mentioned arrest for loiterers. He said in September 2017 that he does not want to see people loitering in the streets, especially at night.

But according to Albayalde, police won't arrest people who are just loitering.

It just so happened, said the PNP chief, that most people who linger in the streets are also violating local ordinances.

Opposition senator Francis Pangilinan, in a statement on Monday, also pointed out that "Republic Act 10158 has decriminalized vagrancy, amending Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code."

"Para po sa mga tagapagpatupad ng batas, hindi na po krimen ang tumambay, o mag-loiter.... Kayo ang dapat manguna sa pagsunod ng batas at hindi pasimuno sa paglabag dito. Sumunod sa batas at hindi sa utos na lumabag dito," said Pangilinan.

(For the law enforcers, loitering is no longer a crime.... You should be the ones leading the way in terms of abiding by the law and not the ones who are first to violate it. Follow the law and not the instruction to violate it.) –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.