President Rodrigo Duterte denied that he had ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest tambay or loiterers, saying loitering is not a crime.
He is correct.
Being a tambay is not a crime. I do not know of any Philippine law which punishes one for being a tambay.
Since being a tambay is not a crime, does this mean that the police in arresting
someone for loitering is liable for a crime?
Well, as the President said, addressed to his critics, to challenge his policy against
loitering before the Supreme Court.
But I remember a felony called Vagrancy under the Philippine Revised Penal Code
The following are vagrants:
- Those who have no apparent means of subsistence and who have the physical ability to work yet neglect to apply themselves to some useful calling
- Persons found loitering around public places and semi-public places without
visible means of support
- Persons tramping or wandering around the country or the streets with no visible means of support
- Idle or dissolute persons lodging in houses of ill-fame
- Ruffians or pimps and those who habitually associate with prostitutes (may include even the rich)
- Persons found loitering in inhabited or uninhabited places belonging to others without any lawful or justifiable reason provided the act does not fall within any article of the Revised Penal Code
The police can arrest anybody for violation of the above crime.
But under RA 9344, persons below 18 years of age shall be exempt from prosecution
for the crime of vagrancy.
This pronouncement by the President that the police can accost anybody in the
exercise of parens patriae may be abused by the police.
Parens patriae refers to the principle that political authority carries with it
the responsibility to protect citizens.
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