The local word, “tambay,” does not paint a flattering picture. It conjures the image of idle, shirtless men milling about, contributing nothing to society.
Sometimes it is true. More often, however, we don’t really know. Perhaps they are exhausted from the work they just finished. Or frustrated at not finding any work at all. Perhaps they are buffeted by problems and want some fresh air and the company of friends. Or, they could be waiting for a ride given the deplorable state of public transportation.
Why begrudge people the freedom to choose how to pass their time?
It could be true that such gatherings may be breeding ground for crime. The operative word, however, is “may” —and this is never sufficient ground for an arrest.
This early, a 22-year-old man picked up for being a “tambay” has died in police custody.
Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde has sacked the station commander where Genesis Argoncillo died. This swift response is commendable but does little to assure the public that such would not happen again, or that arrests will be made with prudence and restraint, not in blind obedience or misplaced zeal.
Contrary to what a cop was overheard saying, the President’s words do not automatically become the law.
It’s an emotional issue that very easily mimics a crackdown on the poor. Those who while away time in coffee shops, for instance, surfing the Internet idly using their laptops, would appear safe from arrests.
We will not stand by and just watch this bizarre concept of peace be enforced on a supposedly enlightened society.
The administration has some massive educating to do—of cops who will implement the directive. There is no question that we want our streets safe from dark elements, but not at the expense of the more fundamental, more human considerations.