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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Erwin Tulfo’s old claim on anti-vagrancy law NOT TRUE

A 2018 video clip of radio broadcaster Erwin Tulfo while lambasting Vice President Robredo for being ignorant of the existence of an anti-vagrancy law has been reuploaded on social media.

Reacting to Robredo’s statement on President Rodrigo Duterte’s June 13, 2018 directive to arrest “tambays” (loiterers), Tulfo’s assertion of the anti-vagrancy law is not true. Vagrancy, or the state of being homeless as defined under the Oxford Dictionary’s Lexico, has been decriminalized in the Philippines since 2012.

But while vagrancy is not a crime, government officials clarified that vagrants, who violate local government ordinances or commit offenses under the Revised Penal Code, can still be arrested.

In a June 20, 2018 Radyo Pilipinas Uno episode, Tulfo said: “Oi, Leni Robredo. Hindi mo ba napag-aralan sa law… Lahat ng tao alam yung tinatawag na anti-vagrancy law (Hey Leni Robredo. Have you not learned in law [school]… Everyone knows the anti-vagrancy law.)”

A reader asked VERA Files Fact Check to debunk this claim.

Tulfo’s criticism came after Robredo posted her opinion on June 18, 2018, that vagrancy was not a crime, and arrests can only be made if these persons actually commit crimes.

Republic Act No. 10158 of 2012 decriminalized vagrancy. It ordered the release of prisoners who were arrested under this charge.

Two days later, ABS-CBN, Inquirer.net, and the Daily Tribune reported that former Philippine National Police Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde supported the vice president’s stand. He reiterated that police arrested persons not for loitering but because of violating local ordinances such as drinking liquor on the streets, smoking in public places, and going shirtless in public.

Facebook (FB) page JEVARA PH (created on Oct. 23, 2017) uploaded an edited version of the Tulfo video on Dec. 26, 2021, with their posts garnering a total of almost 16,700 interactions. FB page Andz showbiz (created on Nov. 27, 2021) reuploaded JEVARA PH’s video four days later, getting 1.02 million interactions.

A TikTok user also uploaded the JEVARA PH clip last Dec. 27, amassing 2,600 interactions.


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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)