Press Release
November 8, 2010


As the holiday season ushers and homeless people start flooding the metropolis, Senator Chiz Escudero wants vagrancy totally removed from society in Senate Bill No. 2367 he filed to decriminalize it.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said the proposed bill now defines vagrants as circumscribed under Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code.

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; ruffians or pimps and those who habitually associate with prostitutes."

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

"Homeless people who are usually labeled as vagrants are more often than not victims of poverty and the lack of opportunities for employment. Thus decent standards of living and quality of life is inaccessible to them. This is what the law fails to see," Escudero explained.

The senator said vagrancy causes little or no damage to society.

"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," he said.

The bill, Escudero said, provides equal protection to women, children and men as authorities cannot anymore recklessly and conveniently use vagrancy in arbitrary arrests.

"The current vagrancy act usually round up people who cannot really 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," Escudero said.

Escudero added that once passed into law, SBN 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.

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