Militants ready vs police raps over SONA clashBy Jamie Elona
MANILA, Philippines — The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said Thursday it was ready to face charges that had been filed against them in relation to clashes that ensued between its members and police during President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address last July 22 in Quezon City.
Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr., however, said the group has yet to receive the notice from the Quezon City prosecutor’s office on the supposed charges filed by the Philippine National Police.
Police Chief Superintendent Richard Albano, Quezon City Police District director, said they were looking into the possibility of filing charges against leaders of militant groups involved in clashes on Commonwealth Avenue, a few hours before President Aquino’s speech.
During the clash, militants destroyed the steel barriers along Commonwealth Avenue in an attempt to occupy the northbound lane which was declared off limits to protesters.
The protesters barged into the other lane but sprinted back to the southbound lane when police in full riot gear pushed them away.
At the height of the clash, 22 police officers were wounded, while Reyes claimed that at least 41 from their side were hurt.
Albano said 10 protesters were arrested, adding that their protest leaders should be held accountable for the clash and for not being able to control its members.
He said among the charges the arrested protesters may face included damage to property and illegal assembly, among others.
“In any case, we are prepared to fight these charges and we will continue to assert the people’s right to protest,” Reyes said.
He said they were in consultation with their lawyers for other possible legal actions that their group and others may take after their rights were “violated” by the PNP and city government.
The group applied for a permit to hold a rally from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Batasan Road, near the House of Representatives where the President delivered his speech, but was denied by the local government, citing the possibility of traffic jams.
“The Aquino regime has shown itself to be as repressive and paranoid as previous regimes. It has shown intolerance for criticism and has engaged in various forms of deception. It covers up corruption while going after critics of the regime,” Reyes said.