MANILA -- A Senator is seeking investigation into the case of a 25-year-old man who died in detention last week after he was arrested under the government's intensified law-enforcement drive.
Police said Genesis "Tisoy" Argoncillo was mauled to death by his cellmates but his family doubted the claim. Tisoy, according to his family, was apprehended for going shirtless in public.
Authorities have stepped up their campaign against loiterers or "tambay" after President Rodrigo Duterte, in a speech last June 14, said those who are "idling around" could cause "potential trouble."
"Maraming mga detalye na hindi tumutugma, pero ang malinaw sa akin, hindi dapat namatay si Tisoy," Sen. Bam Aquino said in a statement Monday.
(Many details surrounding the death don't add up. What's clear is that Tisoy should not have died.)
Aquino said he filed Senate Resolution No. 772 asking the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs to investigate Argoncillo's case.
Argoncillo was held at the Quezon City Police District Station 4 last June 15 for charges of alarm and scandal. He died 4 days later.
Supt. Carlito Grijaldo, commander of Quezon City Police Station 4, initially said Argoncillo's death was self-inflicted, claiming the detainee was "mentally disturbed" and was making a scene inside the cell.
A day after Grijaldo's statement, the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) said Argoncillo complained of shortness of breath and was rushed to a hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.
The QCPD director, Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel later said Argoncillo was mauled by fellow inmates.
Aquino also assailed the intensified police operations against loiterers violating local ordinances as anti-poor.
"Halos lahat ng mga naaresto ay mga mahirap at ang mga operasyon ay ginagawa sa mahihirap na komunidad," the senator said.
(Almost everyone who was arrested are poor and the operations are done in poor communities.)
"There is a need to assess whether the PNP's (Philippine National Police) anti-tambay campaign, as well as the local ordinances on which they are supposedly based, are consistent with national laws and the Constitution," he added.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde earlier clarified that loiterers are arrested due to violations of existing local laws and not simply because they are bystanders.
"We are not arresting these people because of the word na 'tambay' sila (that they are bystanders)," he said in a press conference last week.
"They are being arrested or accosted and penalized because they have violations of ordinances, not because they are istambay (bystanders)," he added.