Militant solons urge probe of violent dispersal of anti-US rally
The Makabayan bloc in Congress called for an investigation into the dispersal of a protest at the US Embassy that turned violent when a police patrol car ran over the protesters on Wednesday.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Act Teachers Rep. France Castro on Thursday filed the resolution at the Bills and Index urging the House committee on human rights to conduct an immediate investigation into the incident.
According to House Resolution 487, the protesters, led by indigenous people who trooped to Manila to protest militarization in the countryside, were violently dispersed by the Manila police under the orders of Sr. Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, deputy director for operations of the Manila Police District, just when the protest was winding down.
The anti-US protesters lauded the administration’s push for an independent foreign policy and called for their self-determination and ancestral rights.
The lawmakers said the Manila police under Pedrozo’s orders violently dispersed the protesters, although the police said they were also provoked.
“The police used water cannons, truncheons and tear gas against the protesters, which injured many,” the resolution read.
The violence escalated when the police rammed a mobile car into the protesters, dragging some under its wheels.
The resolution said it was PO3 Franklin Kho who drove the patrol car that rammed the protesters. The police denied running over the protestors, saying the militants were trying to flip the car.
“What was more revolting, however, was the use of a police mobile car like a battering ram that repeatedly ran over the protesters, thus, resulting [in] more serious injuries on several people including women,” the resolution read.
The lawmakers said Kho’s actions were “premediated” and meant to seriously injure the protesters.
“The action of the police officer, which was well documented by the media, was clearly premeditated and not only aimed to maim the protestors but even to kill, as he showed no regard [for] the lives of the people mowed down by the police car,” the resolution read.
At least 50 protestors were injured and hospitalized, three of whom were injured after they were run over by the patrol car, according to the resolution. At least 29 persons were arrested by the police.
The lawmakers castigated Pedrozo for urging the police to violently disperse the protestors so as not to lose face to the US Embassy.
A television report showed Pedrozo castigating the police for failing to capture any protesters and urging them to turn to violence.
“Wala man lang kayong hinuli, ang dami-dami niyan… Magkagulo na kung magkagulo, pulis tayo rito e. Pwede ba tayong patalo sa mga yan? Anong mukhang ihaharap natin sa embassy? Kaya i-disperse mo ‘yan,” Pedrozo was quoted in the report.
“There is an urgent need for the House of Representatives to express its condemnation [for] such blatant violation of the rights of the people to peaceably assemble and air their grievances that is enshrined in the Constitution. Congress must not allow such fascistic actions of the Philippine National Police to prosper under the new administration, particularly against the marginalized sector of our society like the national minorities,” the resolution read.
The resolution was signed by Zarate, Castro, and other Makabayan lawmakers Act Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, Gabriela Rep. Emmi De Jesus and Arlene Brosas, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
Elago was among those hurt in the incident. She sustained a bruised knee.
Elago filed a separate House Resolution 486, urging the House committee on human rights to conduct a probe on the violent dispersal and summon Pedrozo, Kho and other police officials involved.
The lawmakers condemned the incident, and called for an investigation, in aid of legislation, to create laws for the protection of the interests of marginalized groups and their right to peaceably assemble and air their grievances./rga
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