Dozens of anti-Apec protesters hurt in clash with cops in Pasay, say groups
MANILA, Philippines — On the last day of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, protesters violently clashed with anti-riot troops in Pasay City as militant groups tried to breach a police barricade.
Dozens of rallyists were injured when a civil disturbance management team trained the hose of a fire truck on them, while other cops pushed back the rallyists with their shields, leading to a scuffle.
Vencer Crisostomo, Anakpawis chairperson, said they came from the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila and marched along Taft Avenue.
But upon reaching the corner of Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue and Roxas Boulevard at around 9:45 a.m., more than 1,000 protesters had virtually blocked the streets, making it impossible for vehicles to pass.
Container vans and concrete barriers were placed to prevent them from reaching Roxas Boulevard, as hundreds of anti-riot policemen in full gear stood guard.
Only 10 minutes after arriving at the intersection, the protesters were hosed down with water as government troops tried to push them back.
“Definitely dozens were injured from the water cannon and the scuffle, we don’t have the official figures yet. Some of our comrades from the Southern Tagalog were already blocked in Sta. Cruz, Manila,” said Crisostomo, who was dripping wet.
The rallyists were hosed down for almost 20 minutes but they did not budge for almost two hours, holding their program to protest the APEC summit ending on Thursday.
“Thank you for not being afraid to be here with us. Long live international solidarity!” said one of the speakers at the rally.
As the militant groups were given the water cannon treatment, an unmanned aerial vehicle was seen hovering over the rally and even during the program.
Col. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, said they were checking if the drone had the necessary permit to fly despite a no-fly zone policy for the duration of the APEC summit.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer also spotted a tall, fair-skinned, foreign-looking man at the rally while the protesters at the frontlines were being hosed down.
A video taken by the Inquirer showed the brown-haired, thin man wearing a white “Junk APEC” strip of cloth around his forehead and a pair of eyeglasses.
He was seen looking around while the rest of protesters ran about him to avoid the water cannon.
Sought for comment, Padilla said they would verify the man’s identity and nationality, and if he was a foreigner, he would be deported for violating local laws prohibiting foreigners from engaging in politics and political activities in the country.
The protest, with its anti-APEC theme, had all the elements of a usual militant rally, Filipino style – passionate speeches by leaders, colorful and big banners, music from a mobile speaker, and not to mention food.
Some rallyists, tired and wet from the water cannon treatment, retreated to the sidewalk and shared a meal amongst themselves – heapings of rice and viand spread out on a plastic bag.
Other young protesters took a break from the activity and marked the occasion by taking photos of themselves, while holding banners with the words “No to Foreign Domination.”
More than an hour later or towards the end of the program, a protester told an Inquirer driver whose pick-up was stuck in the rally that they would clear the way for the vehicle to back up and leave before the expected dispersal.
It turned out that at the other end of the rally near F.B. Harrison Street, phalanxes of anti riot troops had lined up with their shields and truncheons to get ready for dispersal. SFM