No martial law? Police cars blast sirens in Laoag City late night patrol

Rambo Talabong
No martial law? Police cars blast sirens in Laoag City late night patrol
With lights flashing and sirens blaring, police cars patrol an empty residential street in Laoag City late at night, as part of the drive against tambays. Police have different views on the propriety of the move.

Residents in one area of Laoag City were disturbed by patrol cars late Tuesday night, June 19, prompting complaints about what they called the “OA (overacting)” operation to catch tambays (loiterers) and others breaking ordinances on drinking in public.

In a video obtained by Rappler, 5 marked police cars are shown patrolling a lit street in full wangwang mode – their sirens blaring and lights flashing. They drove through the empty street slowly, taking the pace of a parade.

According to the source of the clip, the patrol happened in Laoag City in Ilocos Norte near the city’s center on Monday, June 18. It happened at around 10:30 pm, as families slept or prepared to go to bed.

The source said it was the first time that it happened in their area. (READ: Tambays? PNP wrongly detains group waiting outside friend’s home)

The residents have not asked the police about it but the talk of the town is that it was apparently triggered by the government’s ongoing crackdown on street crimes, focusing on “tambays” or street loiterers.

“There’s fear for sure, kahit (even if) you know you’ve done nothing wrong,” the source told Rappler.

On June 14, President Rodrigo Duterte called tambays “potential trouble for the public.” It was a reiteration of his 2017 order against loiterers, as part of the government’s anti-crime campaign. (READ: What you should know: Duterte administration’s crackdown on ‘tambays’)

In Quezon City, hundreds were arrested for different violations over the weekend, heeding the call of Duterte to step up the drive against tambaysRights group Karapatan had said that this was reminiscent of the Martial Law period.

Addressing such concerns, Malacañang said on Tuesday that the anti-tambay drive was not a prelude to a nationwide martial law declaration.


According to police sources familiar with operations, the patrol was improperly done as it violated the community’s right to be left unbothered in their homes.

Ang wangwang is only used to pave the way. At hindi ito ginagamit sa night time para mabulabog ang mga tao (Sirens are only used to pave the way. It is also not used to disturb people),” a source said.

Another source told Rappler that the vehicle formation shown in the video is only used when transporting a high-profile convict to a detention facility. The cars also usually rush for the transfer to be completed.

Reached for comment, Laoag officer-in-charge Superintendent Dominic Guerrero  found nothing out of the ordinary in the video.

“This is not the first,” Guerrero told Rappler in a text message. He explained that he has imposed the policy ever since he assumed his post as the city’s OIC. He has not replied to Rappler as to when he assumed his post.

Rappler has also sought  the comment of the Philippine National Police, but its spokesman, Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana, has yet to reply. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.