PNP should have legal basis to apprehend ‘tambays’: Palace

MANILA — The Philippine National Police (PNP) should have “legal basis” to apprehend “tambays” or bystanders along the streets, Malacañang said Monday in the wake of concerns that police abuses may arise from this new crime prevention scheme.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark assuring the public that they had nothing to worry about since the PNP will only apprehend bystanders who have been formerly associated with troubles or those with existing “negative” records.

According to the PNP, there have been past incidents where bystanders would hurt and even kill passersby for no reason.

Dapat meron namang kahit paanong legal na basehan either dahil alam ng pulis — meron silang personal knowledge na talaga itong taong ito ay talagang tambay at meron na sigurong negative record (There should be at least some kind of legal basis, either because the police have personal knowledge that a person is actually a bystander and probably has a negative record),” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

I think kung hindi ka naman identified doon sa komunidad na talagang walang ginagawa kundi tumambay lamang wala kayong dapat ipangamba (I think if you are not identified in the community as a person who is not doing anything except loitering, then you have nothing to fear),” he added.

Although there was no law to apprehend people roaming the streets, Roque pointed out that there were city and town ordinances that allowed it, such as the curfew covering minors.

Ang concern lang po talaga ng Presidente natin may mga ordinansya na dapat ipatupad. Bagamat wala na tayong mga batas laban sa tambay, may mga umiiral pa ring ordinansa (The concern of the President is there are ordinances that have to be implemented. Although there’s no law preventing bystanders, there are existing ordinances),” Roque said.

Police visibility

Roque described the PNP’s new anti-crime strategy as part of its efforts to ensure that the public feel safer through “police visibility.”

Importante rin na bantayan ang mga tambay para maiwasan din ang paggawa ng krimen (It’s important to keep a close watch of the bystanders to prevent crime). So, in other words, it’s really police visibility and trying to take steps to ensure that the public knows that the police are present,” Roque said.

“If they are engaged in any conspiracy to commit crimes, nandiyan po ang ating kapulisan (our police are there). That’s really crime prevention through police visibility,” he added.

Legal remedies

Roque, meanwhile, assured that there were mechanisms in place to protect the rights of citizens who get apprehended without legal basis.

Meron tayong established na mga mekanismo para protektahan ang karapatan ng kalayaan (We have established mechanisms to protect the right to freedom),” Roque said.

Hindi po tayo mauubusan din ng (We will not run out of) legal remedies to deal with those who will act in excess of authority,” he added.

He explained that a citizen apprehended or arrested after being accused of loitering could easily file illegal detention charges or the writ of amparo against police officers.

The writ of amparo “is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof.”

Moreover, those unfairly apprehended may also file civil damages against the policemen, Roque said.