PNP: Protester had powder burns
DID THE protesters in the bloody clash between ralliers and police in Kidapawan City the other day also fire guns?
PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor yesterday said the PNP was still verifying “on the ground” if there was gunfire from the protesters’ side as well.
Mayor said scene of the crime operatives (Soco) found one of the two dead ralliers “yielded positive results during the paraffin test.”
“The Soco team also recovered two .45-cal. shells in an area occupied by the ralliers and a deformed .38-cal. slug in a makeshift station occupied by our police,” Mayor said.
One indication would be the nature of the injuries of the policemen, he said. It was unclear whether the head injuries were caused by “projectiles” or bullets.
The question came up after videos of the violent incident circulated in social media yesterday showing not just the protesters sustaining gunshot wounds, but also policemen seemingly being hit by gunfire.
Two protesters were killed last Friday after clashes between police and thousands of drought-hit farmers in North Cotabato province demanding food aid from the government.
Protest leaders claimed that the two gunshot fatalities were farmers in their 40s. They said 116 protesters were wounded and 89 others were missing.
Mayor said 99 policemen were recorded injured in the clash, with one still in critical condition.
He said from the police count, only 10 protesters were hurt.
“We extend our deep sympathies to the families of the farmers who died during the protest incident, as well as to those who were injured, in Kidapawan City,” Mayor said.
There were at least three videos posted on social networking sites by Kilab Multimedia. In a post on its Facebook account, Kilab Multimedia encouraged the media to share the “raw footage from our colleagues” for “unbiased reporting.”
Two of the videos posted on Google Drive and shared on Facebook showed the clash breaking out. The protesters and the police were recorded on video pushing at each other, with the police carrying plywood shields and truncheons, and the protesters signs and posters.
The police could be seen rounding up some of the protesters, and the latter fleeing while hurling projectiles as the police advanced and hosed them down.
Another video footage showed the police seemingly cornered beside a fire truck, as gunshots rang in the air. The shots appeared to be landing in front of a police dispersal team that was taking refuge behind a mound of dirt, and apparently throwing projectiles up of their own.
The second video showed the police, screaming in the local dialect, massing in front of a gated compound. A police official was recorded commanding his unarmed men to get in formation in front of the gate. But he could be seen ordering the armed police in camouflage to remove themselves from the formation and to move further away.
The video uploaded on YouTube, meanwhile, showed bloodied male protesters who sustained gunshot wounds.
Mayor said the videos would be included in the police investigation. “Every documentation [of the incident] coming out on social media will be taken into consideration. In the spirit of fairness, we will consider all angles,” he said.
“In the meantime, we appeal to the public not to make judgments until results of the investigation are out,” Mayor said.
Meanwhile, police, armed with warrants, conducted a search of the compound of the Methodist church in Kidapawan City for alleged illegal firearms suspected to have been brought in by the protesting farmers, but came up empty.
The search was prompted by intelligence reports that some of the protesting farmers were armed.
Supt. Jeoffrey Todeño, the head of the search team, said they searched at least seven buildings, including those occupied by the protesters, but found nothing.
“We knew they would not find anything because we are not hiding anything,” said Bro. Ronald Balase of the Redemptorist Order, who accompanied the search team.
Malacañang yesterday said President Aquino would refrain from making a statement on the incident until after the investigation was completed and he was satisfied with the results.
But Communications Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III said that it was certain Mr. Aquino would want a full accountability for the incident. With Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao, Nikko Dizon and Leila Salaverria
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