3 of 5 Filipinos say 'tambay' arrests violate human rights – SWS

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Three out of 5 Filipinos agree that the arrests of tambays or loiterers violate human rights, according to a June 2018 Social Weather Stations survey released on Sunday, September 23.

The survey, conducted from June 27 to 30, found that 60% of adult Filipinos agree (32% strongly agree and 28% somewhat agree) with the following statement: "Police arresting idlers or 'tambays' is a violation of their human rights."

The SWS said 26% disagree with the statement while the remaining 14% are undecided. This produces a net agreement score of +34, which the SWS classifies as "strong."

The survey also found that 68% of adults are worried – while 32% are not worried – that they themselves or anyone they know would be arrested for loitering.

The number of those who are worried is highest in Metro Manila with 78%, followed by the Visayas at 73%, Balance Luzon at 67%, and Mindanao at 59%.

It is also higher among young Filipinos than the elders. It is at 80% among 18-24 year old Filipinos, compared to the 64-70% range among those 25 years old and above.

Despite this, 58% of the respondents, or almost 6 out of 10 Filipinos, believe the police do not discriminate when arresting loiterers. Another 40%, however, believe that only the poor would be arrested while the remaining 2% say only the rich would be arrested.

Reacting to these survey results, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said: "On the arrest of tambays as a violation of human rights, the matter has already been clarified when the President had said that he did not order the arrest of tambays, for loitering, per se, is not a crime. Authorities then issued guidelines that they would not bring to the police station those without violations."

The survey was done weeks after public backlash against the government's Oplan Tambay and just days before the series of killings of mayors and vice mayors, beginning with the death  of Tanauan City mayor Antonio Halili on July 2. 

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that Philippine streets should be cleansed of tambays to "lessen crime and maintain peace and order," which was reminiscent of a local ordinance in his hometown of Davao City banning minors from loitering at night.  (READ: What you should know: Duterte administration's crackdown on 'tambays')

As of July 29, the Philippine National Police has apprehended in Metro Manila alone 78,359 tambays violating city ordinances and laws (READ: [OPINION] Tambayanan: A nation of bystanders)

Satisfaction with drug war

The same June 2018 survey also found that 78% of Filipinos are satisfied while 13% are dissatisfied with Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs. This produces a net satisfaction rating of +65, which SWS classifies as "very good."

This is one point higher than the very good +64 net satisfaction rating in March 2018. The SWS said this was due to the decrease in support in the Visayas, offset by slight increases Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, and Mindanao.

In September 2016, just a few months after Duterte became President, satisfaction with his drug war was at an "excellent" +76. It was highest in December 2017 at an "excellent" +77.

However, the SWS said it has been at the +63 to +66 "very good" range since March 2017, reaching its lowest rating of +63 in September 2017, after outrage over teenage deaths in anti-drugs police operations.

Net satisfaction on the drug war was lowest in the Visayas, falling by 12 points from the "very good" +69 in March 2018 to +57 in June 2018.

It was, however, highest in Duterte's home region of Mindanao, increasing by 3 points from the excellent +81 to +84 in June.

It also increased by 2 points in Metro Manila – from a "very good" +65 in March to +67 in June. In Balance Luzon, it rose by 5 points – from the "very good" +53 in March to +58 in June.

Malacañang welcomed the latest SWS survey results showing 78% satisfaction with the anti-drug campaign. "This is a testament that the drug war continues to enjoy the broad support of our people, notwithstanding the efforts of the detractors and critics of the administration to politicize the issue or discredit the campaign's success," said Roque on Sunday.

The SWS conducted its survey using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide: 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. It has an error margin of ±3% for national percentages and ±6% each for the regions and areas. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com