Sen. Escudero wants vagrancy to be totally removed from our society

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, November 8, 2010-Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, wants vagrancy to be totally removed from our society in the Senate Bill No. 2367 which he filed to decriminalize it as the holiday season ushers and homeless people start flooding the metropolis.


The said proposed bill defines vagrants as circumscribed under Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code where under the law, vagrants are defined as any person found loitering in public or semi-public buildings or places or trampling or wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support; any idle or dissolute person who ledges in houses of ill fame, pimps and those who habitually associate with prostitutes.


In removing the vagrant provision, Escudero said prostitution, however, shall continue to be punishable.


He explained that homeless people who are usually labeled as vagrants are victims of poverty and lack opportunities for employment. Thus decent standards of living and quality of life is inaccessible to them where the law fails to see.


“Vagrancy causes damage to society”, he said, adding that it is a minor infraction that is not motivated by malice but by some psychological disorders. It should therefore be addressed with treatment, rather than with punishment.


The bill provides equal protection to women, children and men as authorities who cannot use vagrancy in arbitrary arrests.


The current vagrancy act usually rounds up people who cannot stand up for themselves. Decriminalization of vagrancy will give a more humane countenance on our justice system. The bill prioritizes the rehabilitation of the offender and acknowledges the value of every human life.


Senate Bill No. 2367 will also decongest the load of the justice system, allowing our law enforcement people to pay more attention to graver offenses and improve the administration of justice in our land. (Jason de Asis)