Thousands arrested for violating smoking ban, loitering: police data

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 24 2018 07:02 PM | Updated as of Sep 25 2018 12:10 AM

MANILA - Police officers have arrested over 291,000 individuals in 3 months for violating local laws in Metro Manila, government data showed Monday. 

According to the National Capital Region Police Office, majority of the local law violators arrested from June 13 to September 24 were from Quezon City, where police nabbed 156,017 people.

This was followed by the areas under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Police District, where over 66,500 violators were arrested and in Manila City, where over 29,200 were nabbed. 

The intensified operations against individuals violating city ordinances began in June when President Rodrigo Duterte issued a directive and called loiterers "potential trouble for the public." 

Police data show most of those arrested violated the smoking ban which accounted for 97,685 arrests, followed by laws against being half-naked in public, which accounted for 22,407 arrests. 

Meanwhile, around 21,699 individuals were arrested for violating the curfew on minors, 15,140 people for drinking on public places, and 134,576 more for "other ordinances." 

Of the total number, around 205,004 or 70 percent were warned, 52,823 were fined, while 33,680 were charged. At least 32 ordinance violators are still under police custody. 

The intensified drive against ordinance violators drew public criticism and outrage especially after the death Genesis "Tisoy" Argoncillo, who died in detention. 

Quezon City officials had conflicting reports regarding Tisoy's arrest. One account by the police said officers responded to reports that the 22-year-old was causing troubles in the community.

A police report from the former commander of Quezon City police's Station 4 claimed Tisoy was arrested for alarm and scandal during the conduct of Oplan Galugad. 

The family, meanwhile, claims Tisoy, who was waiting for his cellphone load in a store next to their house, was arrested for being half-naked. 

Some of their neighbors even claimed that the police made him hold empty beer bottles left by someone else, and also took photos of him for evidence. 

Police removed 9 officers from their posts over the incident, but refused to shelve the campaign. Malacañang, meanwhile, welcomed investigations into the supposed tambay crackdown.

A recent SWS survey showed 60 percent of the 1,200 Filipinos polled agreed that "police arresting idlers or ‘tambays’ is a violation of their human rights."

--with a report from Henry Atuelan, ABS-CBN News