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Palace disputes 7,000 arrests in anti-tambay drive

By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

Malacañang said yesterday that not all the 7,000 persons arrested by the Philippine National Police in Metro Manila in one week were “tambays” or nighttime idlers or loiterers.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said it was physically impossible to detain a large number of people due to overcrowding in jail facilities.

“I dispute if 7,000 people were actually arrested. We don’t have the space for that. Given that meron na nga tayong overcrowding sa mga jail facilities natin. I think it’s physically impossible for one day to accommodate 7,000,” he said.

According to Roque, some of them were possibly just called out or asked why they were loitering while some were arrested for breaking laws or local ordinances.

“Kaya sinasabi ko karamihan doon sinita lang. ‘Yung mga inaresto, inaresto sila dahil hindi sila tumatambay lang. Inaresto dahil habang tumatambay merong ginagawang krimen,” he said.

The Palace official explained that some may have been arrested for breaching anti-smoking ordinances, curfew for minors, or for drinking alcohol in public.

“Kasi pati mga barangay po may ganyang mga ordinances, mga city and municipal ordinances may mga ganyan po depending on where you are,” he explained.

Roque said that if the police acted excessively in their power and illegally detained a person, they can press charges against the erring law enforcer.

“Sinabi ko po na ‘yung mga pag-aresto na ‘yan dapat magresulta sa pagsampa ng kaso, otherwise dapat i-release, otherwise illegal detention naman po sa ating mga kapulisan,” he said.

“Sa aking advise po, kung meron talagang paglabag, magdemanda po para umusad ang proseso.”

Roque also said that it’s about time that Filipinos be disciplined when it comes to the streets, noting that other countries do not have shirtless citizens drinking or smoking in public.

“So sa akin po, it’s also about time that we promote this kind of discipline,” he said.

Roque reiterated that the objective of President Duterte when he ordered authorities to step up the campaign against loiterers is to send a message to criminals that police are out in the streets to catch them.