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Mautak! Randy David: ‘Oplan Tambay’ allows Duterte to terrorize people without martial law

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President Rodrigo Duterte has been able to instill fear in people’s minds even without declaring martial law by ordering the Philippine National Police to crack down on “tambays” or street loiterers, University of the Philippines sociology professor Randy David said.

In his June 24 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, David said the police are fully aware that they cannot detain all of the “tambays” they arrest for too long since the jails are already congested.

“What might be the objective behind this ill-conceived shock-and-awe operation against ‘tambays’? My guess is that the intent is purely to terrorize and deter,” he said.

David said the prospect of spending days in a congested jail “was meant to deter people from using the streets at night as places of conviviality.”

“This is tantamount to enforcing a nationwide curfew, without having to formally declare martial law. It violates the Bill of Rights,” he said.

Earlier this month, Duterte ordered the police to intensify its drive against “tambays”, saying they are “potential trouble for the public.”

In a later speech, however, the President said he did not order the police to arrest “tambays” but only those who are unruly and break the law.

David said the PNP’s arrest of “tambays” is clearly anti-poor. He said most of those who loiter in the streets do so only to breathe since the houses they live in are too small.

“The streets are to the poor what salas or verandas or gardens are to the rich. The dimly-lit carinderia around the street is their Starbucks. Its service area spills out into the road al fresco not by choice but by necessity,” he said.