PRESIDENT RODRIGO Duterte said that his campaign to apprehend bystanders was for public safety, stressing that a little discipline would greatly benefit the country, despite widespread outcry from human rights groups.
“Wala namang inaaresto. I just don’t want you using the streets to loiter. Yung utos ko sa pulis na yun mga tambay. Sundin lang ninyo ‘yung utos ko,” he said, citing his hometown Davao City as an example that has benefited from the strict implementation of rules.
“You know, Davao province used to be one huge territory. And you can see what a little discipline can do to a place,” Duterte said, adding, all Filipinos would live a comfortable life if everyone followed orders.
“Look at Davao. Kung masunod ko lang ‘yung Davao sa lahat, okay na. Komportable na tayo,” Duterte said. “I mean that’s the kind of life that I want every Filipino. You can walk around, park or rural road.”
However, Duterte warned criminals from loitering the streets or even showing their face at all otherwise, it will be the last time they get to do so. “Huwag kayong magpakita diyan kasi kayo ang walang katwiran na magpasyal-pasyal kasi ‘pag makita kita, madampot pa kita. Iyon na ‘yung last pasyal mo,” he said.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque also allayed fears that the anti-loitering campaign is a prelude to martial rule in the whole country following Duterte’s threat to take drastic action against criminality and illegal drugs by declaring a state of national emergency.
He said that martial law is currently imposed in Mindanao and that there was no need to expand its coverage to Luzon and Visayas and that this was also what Duterte claimed. “May martial law po sa Mindanao. So hindi na kailangang mag-prelude to martial law ang—sa Mindanao iyan,” Roque said as he strongly reiterated that Duterte himself said that it would be “complicated” to declare martial law in the entire Philippines.
“Malinaw po ang sinabi na ng Presidente (that imposing) martial law in the entire Philippines will become very complicated,” Roque said. “He has absolutely no intentions right now unless there would be reasons to do so. Wala naman pong nakikita si Presidente sa ngayon.”
Most of the police operations were concentrated in the National Capital Region where thousands of people had been rounded up.
Roque said police officers will only apprehend or arrest bystanders when they have legal basis to do so. “Ang mga ina-accost naman diyan ay iyong mga lumalabag ng mga ordinansa ‘no at saka iyong mga alam ng mga pulis na posibleng mayroong mga nilalabag na mga batas – iyong mga umiinom sa kalye, iyong mga nagsusugal sa kalye, iyong mga ganoon,” he said.
He also said that there were legal remedies available for those arrested without basis such as the Writ of Amparo which can be filed when 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.
Roque described the 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. 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,” he said. “If they are engaged in any conspiracy to commit crimes, nandiyan po ang ating kapulisan.” (Azer Parrocha)
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