Opposition Senator Leila M. De Lima has expressed support to a call by a broad coalition of civil society groups in condemning the arbitrary arrest of minors as part of the Duterte administration’s intensified drive against “tambays” or loiterers in the streets.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, said the government’s arbitrary arrest of minors is an obvious violation of the human rights of children.
“There is no law that says that it is illegal for anyone, much less minors, to go out of their homes and occupy public space. I am in one with the call in condemning this unlawful and discriminatory order,” she said.
At least 20 civil society organizations have issued a strong statement expressing their collective condemnation against what it called a widespread arbitrary arrest of children taking place across the country under the “Oplan Tambay” project.
While they have acknowledged that the purpose of the campaign may be to protect the citizenry, including the children, they noted that it failed to address and act on the flaws that have come along with it.
Last July 4, De Lima issued Dispatch from Crame No. 333 where she condemned the arbitrary arrest of minors and other children. She maintained that Mr. Duterte cannot be trusted with the rights and well-being of the children due to his behavior.
As advocates of human rights and the general welfare of the public, De Lima said she will continue supporting them in calling out the government to set things straight, and be of help to the children and their families instead of just imprisoning them on sight.
“We need to protect our children from the madman that is Duterte who cannot show even a slightest amount of compassion to his people, including the children,” she said.
Last June 14, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to go after “tambays” in the streets that led to the arrest of some 5,500 people during their intensified operations against loiterers conducted between June 13 and 18.
Some weeks after, Duterte ordered the police authorities to not spare minors loitering on the streets from being arrested, a directive which further earned nationwide criticisms.
In an effort to protect children from violence or abuse, De Lima earlier filed Senate Bill No. 1348, which seeks to prohibit corporal punishment and all other forms of “humiliating and degrading” acts imposed on children.
She has also filed Senate Bill 195, which seeks to impose stiffer penalties on those who involve children in their criminal activities.