MANILA, Philippines – Progressive lawmakers from the House Makabayan bloc have filed resolutions seeking a probe into the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s “illegal” crackdown against “tambays” (loiterers) and the death of a 22-year-old detainee due to alleged police brutality.
ACT-Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago filed on Monday House Resolution (HR) 1969, which specifically directs the House committee on human rights to probe the government’s anti-tambay drive, which has so far resulted to the arrest of over 7,000.
The group also filed on Tuesday HR 1971, which seeks to look into Genesis “Tisoy” Argoncillo’s death while in custody of the Novaliches Police Station 4 in Quezon City.
A similar resolution has also been filed in the Senate by Senator Bam Aquino.
“Kailangan ng hustisya para sa walang saysay na pagkamatay ni Genesis Argoncillo matapos na arestuhin siya at ma-detain sa kamay ng pulis ng Quezon City alinsunod sa anti-tambay campaign ni Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte,” Tinio told reporters.
(Justice is needed for the senseless death of Genesis Agoncillo after being arrested and detained at the hands of the police of Quezon City, in line with anti-loitering campaign of President Duterte.)
“Tuwing nag-uutos si Pangulong Duterte ng mga kilos ng pulis, palaging may namamatay at palaging maralita ang biktima. Kaya nananawagan din tayo sa House leadership na kagyat na tumugon at mag-schedule ng hearing dito,” he added.
(Every time President Duterte issues an order to the police, there have been deaths and the poor are always the victims. Thus, we are calling on the House leadership to act with urgency and schedule a hearing.)
In filing HR 1969, the progressive lawmakers said President Rodrigo Duterte’s verbal order to arrest vagrants, “opens floodgate of abuses especially in the midst of unresolved cases of police brutality and extrajudicial killings in poor communities.”
They said this operation also “provides PNP a wide latitude in carrying out illegal arrests, illegal search and seizures and in violating people’s rights to mobility.”
The congressmen also slammed the operation as illegal and anti-poor, citing Republic Act No. 10158 passed in 2012, which already decriminalized acts of vagrancy.
The resolution also pointed out the inconsistent statements of police regarding Argoncillo’s death.
Police first claimed Argoncillo died due to suffocation in his crowded cell. They later said he was mauled by other inmates after the autopsy report showed he succumbed due to multiple blunt force trauma.
PNP chief Dir. Gen. Oscar D. Albayalde and National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar welcomed the filing of these resolutions. They vowed that policemen found responsible for Argoncillo’s death would face sanctions.
The PNP launched its drive against tambays after President Rodrigo Duterte directed authorities to be strict with “tambays,” saying they are “potential trouble for the public.”
“‘Yung kalsada, ‘yung highways are– we built it for the law-abiding citizens. Ang mga criminal dapat diyan, ang mga durugista, they are not supposed to be there. So my directive is ‘pag mag-istambay-istambay diyan sa, sabihin niyo, ‘Umuwi kayo. Kay ‘pag hindi kayo umuwi ihatid ko kayo doon sa opisina ni ano — Pasig,’” Duterte said in a speech last June 13.
(We built the streets and highways for the law-abiding citizens. The criminals and the druggies are not supposed to be there. So my directive is when you see a loiterer, tell them, “Go home. If you don’t go home, I will bring you to the Pasig office.”)
“Do not… You be strict. Part of confronting people who are doing nothing and just idling around; they are potential trouble for the public,” he added.
But amid criticisms against the operations, Duterte later denied ordering the arrest of loiterers. Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defended the directive, saying it was meant to enforce local ordinances.
Despite Duterte’s denial, the PNP said it would continue its “intensified enforcement of laws and local ordinances to prevent occurrence of street crimes.”
The PNP released on Tuesday a two-page memorandum setting the guidelines for the implementation of the drive.
In the memorandum, Albayalde ordered policemen to arrest violators of local ordinances that pertain to drinking and smoking in public places, roaming the streets without shirts, using the karaoke beyond the allowed time, and minors who violate curfew hours to “prevent occurrence of street crimes.”
The PNP chief also directed police units to intensify the conduct of Oplan Sita, Oplan Bulabog, Oplan Bakal, and other police operations to curb criminality. He said the police should coordinate with barangay officials and the Local Peace and Order Council, as well as the Sanggunian Bayan (Municipal Council) in areas where the campaign has not yet been implemented.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said he hopes Argoncillo’s death would be the beginning of the crusade towards justice for all human rights victims under Duterte’s term.
“Ang pangalan ni Tisoy ay Genesis Argoncillo, ang genesis ibig sabihin beginning o simula. So ito sana ang simula, sana ang sakripisyo ng buhay ni Tisoy ay simula ng pagbibigay hustisya sa lahat ng mga biktima ng walang katuturang pagpatay sa ilalim ng administrasyong ito, sa kampanya laban sa droga at itong kampanya laban sa tambay,” he said.
(The full name of the victim is Genesis Agoncillo. Genesis means beginning. So we hope this would be the beginning; we hope the sacrifice of the life of Tisoy would be the advent of justice for all victims of senseless killings under this administration, in its campaign against drugs and against loitering.) (davaotoday.com)