Vice President Leni Robredo questioned the move of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest nighttime loiterers around Metro Manila.
In her statement, Robredo asked the PNP to explain why they’re arresting people just because they’re a bystander.
She believed that being a loiterer is not a crime and the police must only arrest them if they violated any law.
“Ano iyong dahilan kung bakit pinapaaresto? Kasi hindi naman krimen iyong pagtatambay. Kung may krimen na ginawa talagang may karapatan para hulihin,” Robredo said.
“Pero kung tumatambay lang, hindi iyon krimen at walang dahilan. Kung hindi naman nakakaabala sa iba, kung hindi naman gumagawa ng masama, walang dahilan para ipaaresto,” she added.
Last week, cops arrested hundreds of loiterers around Metro Manila for violating the local ordinance.
Some of them were caught drinking outside during nighttime, having no proper clothing and minors violating the curfew ordinance.
“Kung wala namang ginagawa dun, kino-caution, sinasabihan lang naman natin eh, pero kung may violation ng ordinance yun ang dadamputin natin,” NCRPO Chief Guillermo Eleazar said.
But, Senator Kiko Pangilinan opposed the recent actions of the PNP saying that loitering have been already decriminalized during the former Aquino administration.
“Republic Act 10158 has decriminalized vagrancy, amending Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code,” he said in a statement on Monday.
President Rodrigo Duterte told the police to become strict when it comes to loiterers, saying that “they are potential trouble for the public.”
Meanwhile, Malacanang defended the decision of Duterte, saying that he only wanted a strict implementation of city ordinances as part of government’s fight against criminality.
“It is more of crime prevention; hence, the President’s remarks are for the police to ask those who stay late at night in the streets to go home. Now, should they be arrested if they refuse? The President as a lawyer knows that if no crime has been committed, there is no basis for arrest. But just the same, he would rather that those loitering should go home so that those people with bad intentions are thwarted,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.