Duterte: I never said arrest 'tambays'

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President Rodrigo Duterte says if loiterers become unruly, they are given the choice to either go home or be arrested.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 23) President Rodrigo Duterte said he never gave an order to arrest "tambays" or loiterers, unless they use the road as an extension of their homes.

"I never said arrested, but if you are drinking diyan sa alley, 'yang mga squatters area, if you are there making a sala out of the road there, huhulihin talaga kita [I will arrest you]," he said.

Duterte made the statement on Friday at an event in Davao City, in the wake of controversial cases stemming from what has been dubbed Operation: Tambay.

"If you are a minor, under the power of parens patriae, you're the father of a nation, you can always give an advice for people kagaya ng minors," he said.

In legal terms, parens patriae refers to the power of the state to act as the parent of a minor who needs protection.

Duterte said, however, if anyone becomes unruly, they are given the choice to either go home or be arrested.

"That is the police power of the state. Let them contest that in the Supreme Court," he said.

In an interview with CNN Philippines earlier, Quezon City Police District (QCPD) director Chief Superintendent Joselito Esquivel Jr. said there could be more suspects in the death of Genesis "Tisoy" Argoncillo, who died under police custody.

So far, two people have been charged with murder in Argoncillo's case.

Argoncillo's family said he was arrested June 15 by policemen who found him in front of a store without a shirt on, in violation of a city ordinance. But police officials contradicted the family's account, saying the 25-year-old Argoncillo was arrested for alarm and scandal after being reported by concerned residents as drunk and causing trouble.

Quezon City Police District (QCPD) director Chief Superintendent Joselito Esquivel told a news conference on Friday that murder charges were filed against Richard Bautista and Justin Mercado, the suspects in Argoncillo's killing. He said the two men were pinpointed by three detainees, who have issued testimonies.

Another case involves a person going by alias Jason who was nabbed by the police on June 17 for allegedly violating a city ordinance.