Probe on over Parañaque riot; 16 cops detainedBy Nathaniel R. Melican
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Amid calls for an inquiry into Monday’s deadly riot at Silverio Compound in Parañaque City, the local police chief on Tuesday admitted that his men used live ammunition to deal with the rock-throwing residents, but maintained that only warning shots were fired.
“There were no rubber bullets used. We used either blank or live bullets,” Senior Superintendent Billy Beltran told the Inquirer on the phone.
“We have already identified at least eight policemen from the city’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) division who fired live bullets. But those were warning shots,” Beltran said.
He added that the eight SWAT members were among the 16 policemen whose firearms were confiscated and who were detained at the Parañaque police headquarters pending an investigation.
But the city police chief defended the actions taken by his men, saying they had their backs against the wall when residents opposing the court-ordered demolition of a flea market at the compound began throwing rocks, molotov cocktails and other objects.
“We were just in our assembly area when we were attacked. We were not in formation yet, and we were attacked while the other residents were still negotiating,” he said.
“If the police acted that way, it was all in their defense. They were placed in a situation that they could no longer tolerate,” Beltran added.
He also noted that “most of the attackers were not residents of Silverio. They’re no longer protesters but attackers and a mob ready to harm and ready to kill,” he said.
Beltran, who said he would welcome an investigation or any sanction, noted that there were only between 200 and 300 policemen deployed at the site on Sucat Road to control an angry mob of around 1,500.
In Camp Crame, PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Generoso Carbo Jr. said: “If any wrongdoing was committed on our end … (the responsible officers and men) will be meted [out] the appropriate punishment.”
The bloody dispersal, which left one resident dead and at least 39 others injured, continued to draw condemnation and calls for an investigation from Congress, the justice and interior departments, and the human rights commission, as well as from militant urban poor groups.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines asked Malacañang to impose a moratorium on slum demolitions, citing the government’s lack of a solid relocation plan for evicted informal settlers.
The Southern Police District (SPD), which has jurisdiction over Parañaque, has formed Task Force Silverio to investigate the incident, but is also pressing charges against 33 protesters, including two women and eight minors, who were arrested.
In Quezon City, members of the militant Kadamay tried to stage a rally in front of President Aquino’s ancestral house on Times Street to condemn the violent demolition.
But the protesters, who came with a mock black coffin, were only allowed by police to hold the mass action a street away from the Aquino home.–With reports from DJ Yap, Jocelyn Uy, Nancy Carvajal, TJ Burgonio and Gil Cabacungan Jr.