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No to ‘tambay’

By Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

The anti-tambay operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is now in the spotlight – many citizens expressed support to it while some sectors criticize it. Some groups speculate that the operations, being the action taken by the PNP on the directive of President Duterte, is a prelude to the declaration of martial law in the country. Other groups, including the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), are calling for the immediate stoppage of the operations.

What are really the concerns about this issue?

The definition of “tambay” should be established. What makes one a tambay? According to the PNP, tambays are persons who violate ordinances that prohibit drinking in the streets and other public places, half-naked loitering outside residence, and minors who are out in the streets during curfew period.

The definition of tambay should be as how the concerned local ordinance defined it. This means that a tambay in one city or municipality may not be considered a tambay in another city or municipality. Cities or municipalities with no ordinances prohibiting tambays will have no tambays. It is that simple.

The call of the CHR appears to be anchored on, among others, the premise that the PNP is implementing its anti-tambay operations all throughout the country because of the directive of the President – even in cities and municipalities that have no ordinances prohibiting tambays. Of course, the PNP will refute the same. Give these, the call of the CHR should be supported by specific instances of PNP implementing anti-tambay operations in cities and municipalities with no ordinances prohibiting tambays or beyond the provisions of ordinances.

While the PNP should be supported in its anti-tambay operations, it is difficult to support its pronouncement that it has been implementing such ordinances and that their current actions are only intended to intensity their previous actions on the matter.

There are many tambays in almost all parts of the country because, except perhaps in Davao City, actions like drinking in the streets and other public places and walking half-naked outside residence have never been deemed and known as a violation of any ordinance or law. Such actions have always been viewed as “acceptable.”

This fact points to the fact that one concern about the anti-tambay operations of the government – of the PNP in particular – is the lack effective communication of such ordinances to the concerned citizens.

While ignorance of the law excuses no one, the government – in this case, the local government units – should own the responsibility of effectively communicating policies, rules and guidelines to all affected by the same.