DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Following the mass arrest of over 5,000 vagrants by the Metro Manila police district, palace officials assured the public that the anti-tambay order of President Rodrigo Duterte is not a prelude to the declaration of martial nationwide.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr., in a press briefing held June 19 in Cotabato City State Polytechnic College, said the new directive will not result in the declaration of martial law nationwide

“The President has absolutely no intentions right now unless there would be reasons to do so. Wala naman siyang nakikitang rason ngayon,” he said.

He also assured the public that this is not something to worry about since there are “built-in” guarantees to this directive.

“Mayroon pong mga built-in guarantees naman po ‘yan. Nariyan po ang Bill of Rights so kinakailangan kapag nag-aresto sampahan sila ng kaso at kung hindi sila sasampahan within the prescribed number of hours, dapat nang palayain,” Roque said.

However, for Sen. Pangilinan of the Liberal Party and member of the minority in the Senate released a statement reminding the police that Republic Act 10158 decriminalized vagrancy, amending article 202 of the Revised Penal Code.

“Hindi na po krimen ang tumambay, o mag loiter,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gabriela party list, in a statement, said President Duterte’s verbal order to arrest vagrants, tambays or idle individuals opens a floodgate of abuses especially in the midst of unresolved cases of police brutality and extrajudicial killings in poor communities.

The women’s party list also said this directive of the president provided the PNP a wide latitude in carrying out illegal arrests, illegal search, and seizures and in violating people’s right to mobility. This certainly does not bode well for Filipino women who are either jobless or are forced to do odd and exploitative jobs in communities and busy districts.

“We detest the mass arrests of over 5,000 alleged “tambays” executed by the Metro Manila police district following the President’s pronouncements. This ridiculous exercise of police powers should be immediately stopped. It has already deprived thousands of individuals of their liberties despite the decriminalization of vagrancy since 2012. This sets the stage for a nationwide martial rule and conditions the public to subjugate basic rights and civil liberties to a fascist police state.” said in a statement. (davaotoday.com)

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