Should you be worried about the crackdown on street ‘tambays’ at night?

If you don’t have anything important to do late at night, it would still be much better to stay at home. That is because the Philippine National Police (PNP) is once again actively rounding up nighttime idlers or ‘tambays’ (Tagalog slang for the word standby) along the metro’s streets.

As of press time, over 7,000 people have already been arrested and detained in just a week’s time. However, the police force is issuing a clarification that those individuals were held liable not for simply standing by on the streets during wee hours of the night but because they were found to violate specific metro ordinances.

For the week covering June 13 to June 20, there were 7,291 ‘tambays’ arrested in all five districts of Metro Manila, according to data released by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).


Bulk of arrests
The Eastern Police District—covering the cities of San Juan, Mandaluyong, Marikina, and Pasig—had the biggest bulk of that number at 2,237. The Southern Police District—covering the cities of Pasay, Makati, Taguig, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, and Las Piñas—had 2,046 arrests. The Quezon City Police District had 1,146, while the Northern Police District—covering Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela—had 1,011 arrests. The Manila Police District had 851.

The crackdown is also taking place in cities outside Metro Manila. The government aims to implement this crackdown nationwide soon, though they are still finalizing guidelines for such activities, conforming to particular provincial or city ordinances.


Further improving peace and order
President Rodrigo Duterte issued the order on June 13 to get rid of people who are loitering in the streets at night, in an effort to further make the cities more peaceful and crime-free.

However, because an anti-vagrancy law has already been repealed in 2012, local authorities can never arrest or detain people just because they are loitering in the streets. But those arrested were found to violate other ordinances.

Specific violations
“Those arrested were smoking in public places, illegal vendors, half-naked in public, drinking in public places or streets, urinating in public places, illegal barkers, littering, breach of peace, obstruction, riding in tandem and traffic-code violators, and concealment of deadly weapons,” PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde reiterated.

PNP has also emphasized that passersby and those working in night-time shifts should not worry as they will not be arrested on the streets unless they violate city ordinances. People are also advised to be more vigilant and to assert their human rights, especially when they think they are being subjected to illegal arrest or detention (when they think they are not violating any law or ordinance).