Anti-tambay drive, a drive against the poor

Anti-tambay drive, a drive against the poor

ANOTHER directive against the poor: the anti-tambay drive. It is really against the poor. The poor are the ones who are always in the streets “loitering”. Have we asked why? It is because they have nowhere else to go. Their homes? Many have very small houses that is not even fit for human habitation. There is no ventilation and even light inside. The heat must be terrible in there. And not a few have no houses at all. With this drive they can round up all the street people!

It is a glaring generalization that tambays cause criminality. Some of them do, but many are just innocently whiling away the time. If the government is serious in addressing loitering, they should give the poor decent housing and most of all, provide them jobs. If people are gainfully working, they would not be loitering in the streets! In our city planning, there are no parks or open places where people can stay and enjoy the sunlight. Instead of doing their work—proper housing, proper city planning, sufficient jobs for the people – this government is blaming and punishing the people, and most of the time, the poor, for their failures.

Now that Genesis “Tisoy” Argoncillo has been killed due to this drive, the excuses and the blame game has begun. Even Duterte tries to extricate himself by claiming that he never ordered the police to arrest tambays. But what do we make out of what he said at the oath-taking ceremony of newly promoted police, coast guard and jail officers on June 13 in Malacañang? He is put on record saying, “My directive is, if you’re just standing by (in the streets), tell them, ‘Go home. If you don’t go home, I’ll bring you to the office in Pasig.’” He even added: “I’ll take care of it. Tie their hands together and I’ll throw them in (the river).”

After nearly 7,300 people have been rounded up in the anti-tambay sweep by the police in just a week since June 13, the PNP now is saying that they do not arrest people. Why was Tisoy brought to the Quezon City Police District Station 4? Why was he put in the overcrowded lock-up cell? Is this not arrest? One life has been lost, and maybe others more because of this ill-thought of drive. It is a knee-jerk response to an impulsive pronouncement of a non-thinking Head of State.

Commission on Human Rights Chair Jose Luis Gascon rightly remarked that the current police operations lack “appropriate and clear guidelines.” This is open to great harm to the citizens. This is another drive that is not only anti-poor but is open to grave abuse of power, and again, to impunity on the authorities! Now no one takes responsibility.

The country is faced with so many big problems: like the rising cost of living, the high inflation, the weakening of the peso, the security threat of China. Instead of facing these problems why has Duterte to micromanage the tambays. Are they really problematic? There is even no serious study that would correlate them to rising criminality. A hunch is that Duterte in just looking for another scapegoat for his increasingly clear failure in governance. Naghahanap na naman ng masisisi at ang mga tambay ang napagtutuonan ng pansin.

Hello PNP! Please pay attention to the more than 23,000 cases of homicide that is “under investigation” in your War on Drugs.  Solve these for this is clearly your job, instead of going after the tambays!