Police deny running over protesters at US Embassy
Police denied deliberately running over some rallyists in an anti-American protest that turned violent in front of the United States (US) Embassy in Manila on Wednesday, stressing that the security forces were merely defending themselves from protesters attacking them.
“Hindi naman sila sinagasaan (They weren’t run over). The rallyists were trying to flip over the patrol car,” Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief, said in a text message to INQUIRER.net.
“In the process, the driver extricated the patrol car and inadvertently hit some unruly protesters who sustained minor injuries,” he explained.
Albayalde also pointed out that there were casualties too from the police side, with 32 civil disturbance management cops injured. Their uniforms were also tainted with red paint.
The Metro Manila police chief said they will file charges of direct assault and illegal assembly against the arrested rallyists.
“While we respect the freedom of assembly and speech in exercise of democracy, we cannot tolerate violations of the law and breach in peace and security by people who tend to go beyond it. Democracy does not mean that the law of the land can be violated,” Albayalde added.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. meanwhile said there was no justification for what the police did to the protesters.
“In the first place, the rally was about to end. The protesters were preparing to leave. Why did they fire tear gas and assault the protesters?” he said in a text message to INQUIRER.net.
Reyes said the violence started when a Manila Police District (MPD) official Col. Marcelino Pedroso arrived in the protest site. The leftist groups said he gave the go signal for the violent dispersal.
He said 21 individuals have been arrested and brought to the MPD headquarters after the dispersal, including a doctor, nurse, health volunteer and a member of the media.
At least 50 suffered injuries from the protesters’ side. CDG
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