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CHR criticizes police over force in dispersal

/ 05:20 AM May 27, 2022
Riot policemen get rough with insistent protesters on the road to the Batasang Pambansa  chr force dispersal

IT’S 2022, NOT 1985 Riot policemen get rough with insistent protesters on the road to the Batasang Pambansa where President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was proclaimed on Wednesday.—NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has expressed serious alarm at the Philippine National Police for using water cannons and brute force to subdue protesters who gathered on CHR grounds on Wednesday to voice out their dismay at the proclamation of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

At the same time, CHR executive director Jacqueline de Guia expressed hope that the incoming Marcos administration “will cultivate an environment conducive to peaceful assemblies … as part of a functioning democracy.”

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“As a constitutionally guaranteed right, the State and its law enforcement agencies has the duty to facilitate and protect the right to peaceful protest in the same manner that it has the obligation to ensure public order and safety,” she said in a statement.

De Guia reminded the police force against the use of water cannons and the carrying of firearms during nonviolent protests in line with prohibitions outlined in the Marcosian era Batas Pambansa No. 880. On Wednesday, scores of activists gathered at the CHR Freedom Park along Commonwealth Avenue to protest against the proclamation of Marcos and Vice President-elect Sara Duterte.

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Police blocked them from going to Batasang Pambansa where the official canvassing was being held.

Around 14 people were injured after a brief confrontation with police. Witnesses also alleged that police even taunted the protesters.

‘Overkill’

De Guia said they dispatched their lawyers and investigators early on to explain to police the prohibitions under BP 880 and to urge them to practice maximum tolerance against the protesters.

However, their appeals apparently went unheeded as a commotion ensued between the police and protesters.

Bayan, one of the groups that protested at the CHR grounds, maintained that the police “has no right to prevent citizens from expressing their rejection of the recent fraudulent elections and the proclamation of Marcos Jr. and Duterte.”

They noted that since Tuesday night, police had already heavily deployed troops along Commonwealth Avenue—an “overkill preparation,” it added.

It warned that the brutal way the assembly was dispersed “could be a portent of things to come under the next government.”

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De Guia admitted a fatal vulnerability in the CHR’s mandate: While it can monitor rallies and investigate violations, it does not have the power to “prevent nor stop any party from any potential/ongoing violation.”

To prevent a similar incident in subsequent rallies, the CHR “will communicate with the PNP regarding its initial findings and recommendations,” De Guia said.

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TAGS: CHR, Force dispersal, Human rights
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