Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has thrown her support behind the six Quezon City policemen who were recently beaten up by members of militant groups during a protest rally at the National Anti-Poverty Commission office in Quezon City.
The policemen led by Quezon City Police District director Senior Supt. Richard Albano came to see De Lima at the Department of Justice main office in Manila on Tuesday to seek her advice on the charges they would file against the protesters.
“They just advised (the DOJ) that they will be filing a complaint in connection with the NAPC incident,” De Lima told reporters after her meeting with the policemen.
De Lima maintained that no one has the right to hurt anyone, especially law enforcers, “even if you have a very valid cause for grievance.”
“Any advocacy you have, that’s your right—freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. But there is also such a thing as abuse of rights,” said De Lima, a former chairman of the Commission on Human Rights.
She said the Philippine National Police wanted to file complaints against the militant groups so it could “seek justice for its own men and women who were just doing their job to keep the peace in that kind of activity.”
She said she told Albano’s men to file the complaints in the Quezon City prosecutor’s office.
The protesters could face charges of malicious mischief, assault of persons in authority, physical injuries and even robbery, the officers said.
Speaking to reporters, Albano said the QCPD had identified at least 20 protesters who allegedly assaulted the policemen, including Station 2 commander Supt. Pedro Sanchez.
Sanchez, who was still sporting a bruise on his left cheek after being struck by a protester with a pole, said the decision to file the cases was a consensus reached by his men who were hurt in the incident.