A CAGAYAN de Oro City councilor said Monday, July 2, he has already received 10 complaints from so-called loiterers or tambays arrested by police on various days since the “anti-tambay” campaign started on June 28.
One of those arrested said she was only standing outside a convenience store in Barangay Carmen waiting for her husband who was inside the store buying something to come out when she was picked up by police.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, she said she was mistaken for a loiterer when the police came to pick up tambays drinking alcohol outside the convenience store.
She said no case was filed against her but she said the incident nevertheless traumatized her.
City Councilor Romeo Calizo said the woman above is one of the 10 persons who have signified their complaints through texts and calls.
Calizo said all ten felt they did not violate any local ordinance or law.
In response to these complaints, Calizo said he will call for a committee meeting with the City Police Director Senior Superintendent Nelson Aganon and all the complainants to clarify the police's enforcement of the City Ordinance 5133-95 which prohibits drinking alcohol in public places.
The councilor admitted that the city ordinance is not specific in identifying what constitutes public space.
“It says arrest the nuisance, but it did not say what really is a nuisance, do we include there those persons whose clothes are stripped especially those drinking? Because the police are implementing this, and I understand too because it's logic that those men who do not have clothes on are likely to cause trouble,” he said.
“We will also review the ordinance and see if there is a need to amend this,” he said.
Calizo said the woman above may also have been arrested as the police's rules of engagement allows the arrest of anyone who is within the perimeter of a crime that is being committed.
“That's why it is necessary to hear these complaints in the proper forum because for now, I can say that these are all hearsay,” he said.
“The meeting will allow us to review what really transpired during the initial enforcement operations that they did, and find out if there is a need to re-enforce the existing law,” he added.
Police Superintendent Mardy Hortillosa, Cagayan de Oro City Police Office spokesperson, agrees with the councilors that there is a need to revisit the city ordinance.
He said there is a need to define the “public places” in the ordinance, and suggests that like a traffic violation, a violator should not be arrest immediately and will only be issued a “citation ticket” for the first offense.
“We need more clear definition because it's also going to be a problem if a case will be filed against us. Twenty seven cases have already been dismissed on our anti-tambay campaign so maybe there really is a problem,” he added.