Senator Chiz Escudero wants to strike out vagrancy from the country’s code of crimes, saying this provision only targets the poor and the disadvantaged.
Escudero proposed the decriminalization of vagrancy under Senate Bill No. 2367 because homelessness and lack of opportunities to earn a living is a minor infraction, if at all, and thus should not be lumped together with criminal acts.
He said vagrancy was often used to take advantage of people who could not really stand up for themselves.
“Take the case of that woman who was arrested by a policeman for vagrancy. She was not even loitering, yet she was arrested. Now she’s crying rape by her captor,” Escudero said.
Escudero was referring to the rape case filed against PO3 Antonio Bautista by a woman he nabbed for alleged vagrancy.
The female victim said she was arrested by Bautista while she waiting for her husband on their way to mass. At the Manila Police District where she was taken, the cop took her money amounting to P4,000 and subsequently molested her.
“This is a clear case of using the anti-vagrancy law as an opportunity for erring authorities to mulct money from and take advantage of people,” Escudero said. “Strike this provision out and we will be rid of ugly incidence such as this one brought by that abusive policeman.”
“I challenge the Philippine National Police to immediately effect the arrest of Bautista. This is an opportunity for them to prove that they can and will arrest even one of their own,” he added.
Escudero said police authorities and other law enforcement officers should be focusing on graver offenses that pose threats to peace and security of individuals rather than busying themselves with petty offenses.
“Our society and our law should be restorative and rehabilitative rather than punitive to those who simply were not given fair and equal opportunities in life” the senator said.