‘Tambays’ and the parable of the workers | Inquirer Opinion

‘Tambays’ and the parable of the workers

05:02 AM July 03, 2018

In Matthew 20:1-16, the Evangelist narrated the famous Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Matthew said, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day. About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ He did the same at noon and at three in the afternoon. At five, he found still others standing around. ‘Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?’ he asked. ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He hired them, too.”

The 4.1 million unemployed Filipinos, when asked “Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?” can in unison reply, “Because no one has hired us.” Or perhaps they could be more emphatic with their answer and say, “Because our contracts have ended, and this contractualization scheme has continually deprived us of regular work and just wages, and so we spend time by just hanging around doing nothing.”


Today, the poor and the unemployed are fervently hoping to hear the promise of a good master who would tell them, “You also go to work in my vineyard.”

Days after President Duterte gave orders to arrest nighttime dwellers or “tambays,” more than 7,000 have been reportedly apprehended by the police. The crackdown is yet another form of attack against the most vulnerable of our society, the poor. It is certainly not aimed against the petty bourgeoisie hanging out late at night in either Starbucks or Bo’s. And the operation is definitely not directed against bureaucrats and tycoons who spend the night in casinos. The operation targets poor loiterers, those who, because of economic deprivation, are standing by idly in streets and other public places, be it daytime or nighttime.


The President is wrong to accuse the tambays of being the cause of crimes in the streets. If he is sincere in addressing crimes, he should provide better job opportunities, and finally make true his promise to end contractual work schemes in the country. This will be possible if the President resumes the talks with the National Democratic Front, in order to finally agree and implement the Comprehensive Agreement for Socioeconomic Reforms. Here, agrarian reform and rural development, and national industrialization and economic development, will gradually be realized, spurring job opportunities in both rural and urban areas. Idlers will steadily vanish in this progressive socioeconomic setup.

REGLETTO ALDRICH D. IMBONG, secretary general, Promotion of Church People’s Response-Cebu

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