By Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan
June 25, 2018
QUEZON CITY – Youth groups says that the verbal order of President Rodrigo Duterte to crackdown on ‘tambays’ showed that he “disturbingly disengaged from social reality” as he “continues to hallucinate of a vision of a middle-class Philippines” when many remain living below the poverty line.
The Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) claimed that President Duterte’s directive to arrest ‘tambays’ who are half-naked, loitering and drinking in the streets, “can only be explained by his delusions of grandeur and denial of widespread poverty in the country”.
They claim that it is ironic for Duterte to give an arrest order that is blatantly anti-poor when in fact it is his administration and its policies the reason why many of our countrymen have remained poor and are on “stand-by” mode.
“His promise of change has been exposed as an electoral stunt and all he has done is preserve the status quo. No major economic policy reversals has been made to uplift the poor in the past three years. Similar to his predecessors, Duterte has condemned the poor to a neo-liberal economic policies, buried us in foreign debt and bolstered the export-oriented, import-dependent economic framework, explained Jade Mata, spokesperson of SPARK.
“The poor have no manicured gardens or club houses for rest and recreations. So why assail them if their shanties and communities have no air conditioning? The druglords, the gambling syndicates and human traffickers do not live in these places. The real criminals are those who underpay their employees, maintain their contractual work and expose them to the most inhumane working conditions. The vilest criminals wear suits,“ Mata added.
SPARK challenged Duterte to make his illusions of a middle-class Philippines a reality by repealing the TRAIN Law, instituting price control on all basic commodities, increase wages to measure up to the cost of living and abolish contractualization.
Meanwhile, youth group based in University of the Philippines-Diliman, KAISA UP, connected the issue to the violation of rights and civil liberties of people living in congested areas.
“The crackdown is another blow to our already failing democracy,” Zaira Baniaga of KAISA UP said. “The youth and the poor are the most vulnerable with these kinds of attacks on civil liberties. We can’t keep turning a blind eye to how this administration maltreats the poor. We call all freedom-loving citizens of the country and democratic groups to condemn this injustice and march as one to confront Duterte’s authoritarianism."
KAISA UP fears that many more injustices will follow if the Oplan Tambay remains unscraped.
Last week, Genesis ‘Tisoy’ Argoncillo of Novaliches was found dead in jail, four days after being arrested half-naked in the streets. The Oplan Tambay started last June 13 and is reported to have arrested an estimate of 7,000 to 10,000 loiterers.
Both SPARK and KAISA UP together with other youth groups are scheduled to mount mass actions in the days to come.