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Palace: Challenge anti-tambay order before High Court

By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

Malacañang yesterday defended President Duterte’s campaign against street idlers, saying the Chief Executive only wants to prevent crimes by enhancing police visibility and not criminalizing vagrancy.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that Duterte’s anti-tambay directive is aimed at preventing crimes from happening.

“We are not criminalizing vagrancy po. We are implementing the laws and ordinances, and it is a form of higher police visibility intended to act as deterrent towards the commission of crimes,” Roque said.

Loitering was a criminal offense under Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code until then President Benigno S. Aquino III signed a law in 2012 decriminalizing vagrancy amid concerns that the RPC has been used to justify arbitrary arrests against the poor.

The Palace official also said that any probe on Duterte’s anti-tambay directive by Congress, as well as challenges before the Supreme Court, is welcome.

“Pero lahat naman po ng im-bestigasyon ay katungkulan ‘yan ng Kongreso, parehong kapulungan ng Kongreso. Lalong-lalo na kung sila po ay bubuo ng batas para lalong mas mabuti ang implementasyon na ninanais makamit ng ating Presidente,” Roque said.

“So we welcome the congressional investigations, and we also welcome challenges before the Supreme Court, the President has said so,” he added.

Duterte has acknowledged that loitering is not a crime. However, he has said that as the nation’s father, he can arrest loiterers if he thinks people need protection, especially women who can become victims of sexual abuse by loiterers.