The anatomy of the “tambay” issue


MOST OF THE TAMBAYS on the streets in the country, especially those in the provinces, are there only to have some good time. Usually, they talk loud-accompanied by cheap gin and tales of exaggeration as to who is the “bestest” and the “mostest” among them.

Beyond that, if the Tambays rule the streets- are impolite, threatening to passersby, they are now goons- and that is the fault of the barangay officials. They are paid by the taxes of the people to keep law and decency in their communities.

That the PNP ( Philippine National Police) has been ordered by the president to do the cleansing of the streets is proof positive there has been a dereliction of duty on the part of the barangay officials, Perhaps, their relatives and friends are among the Tambays. But that’s no excuse.

The Anti-Vagrancy Law as part of the Revised Penal Code had been decriminalized in 2012 by a Congressional act; therefore any local law including ordinances cannot be above a national statute.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself had said that Tambays are to be “accosted” not “arrested” because as a long-time prosecutor, he knows loitering is not a crime. If he is not in violation of a law, a person asked by the PNP to go to the precinct can ask what law he has violated.

His stay in the precinct should be “brief and cursory” otherwise prolonging it is no longer accosting but arresting. And cops can only arrest someone if there is a probable cause of detention not just reasonable suspicion.

Because reasonable suspicion is not probable cause. And we learned that any evidence gathered as a result of detention without probable cause is not admissible in court.

No one is interested in a troubled neighborhood any more than anyone is happy (except the sadists) in inflicting human rights violation on any law-abiding member of one’s community.

That is why it is important that civic-minded lawyers in the community should give some kind of voluntary service, especially in ungodly hours of the night in order that the innocent not be unduly molested.

So, must the Public Attorneys Office – also be there the next day to determine the reasons for those who are still detained. The case in point of is one involving Genesis Agoncillo (22) arrested for being half-naked in front of his house in Novaliches Quezon City who was murdered inside his prison cell allegedly by members of the Sputnik Gang.

Truth or fall guys? Nonetheless, the policemen on duty during that time may be liable for violation of the Anti- Torture Act of 2009 where lawmen in-custody of offenders must make sure that those under detention in their care are not prejudiced in any way- much less murdered inside a detention cell.

Senator Ping Lacson decried the fact that Agoncillo a first offender for a minor infraction was dumped alongside hardened criminals. But pray tell us, aren’t our jails already so congested already that there is nowhere else to place these Tambay offenders?

Where, therefore, did the cops lock in these supposed 10,000 arrested nationwide for this Tambay campaign? Your guess is as good as mine.

We are no members of the Bleeding Hearts Ltd. of this country, but we know that there are a number of reasons, men flock together at the street corner or sarisari store to while their time away. Not remotely connected to intent to commit a crime.

For one, there are 3.1 million homeless Filipinos today. If they have homes, they are packed like sardines in a tin can that the only time it feels like home is when the body is too tired to think and so they just go home and fall like a sack to sleep.

Some do not even have TV sets at home to watch the PBA or the “Ang Probinsiyano” and have to stretch their necks among the many watching from the neighbor’s or carinderia’s TV set.

There are few public parks to unwind for those in the hinter barrios unless they pay the tricycle to get there, My, they do not even know when their next meal will be coming from the next day. Tricycle fare for the park?

Many of them are without education and therefore without jobs and their evening quorum is their next best thing to family.