Police reaction to protesters ‘unreasonable, unjustified’—PNP
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has admitted that the violence the anti-riot cops displayed during the bloody dispersal of militant protesters at the US Embassy in Manila was “unreasonable and unjustified.”
But at the same time, the PNP remained firm in its stand that the cops merely defended themselves from the unruly protesters.
At a press conference at Camp Crame on Thursday, PNP deputy chief for operations Police Director Benjamin Magalong said that the actuations of PO3 Franklin Kho, the driver of the police van that ran over several protesters, and the cops seen assaulting a rallyist driving a jeepney, were uncalled for.
“There are incidents wherein some reactions of the police are unreasonable and unjustified. Like for example what Kho did. Walang sapat na dahilan para gawin niya ‘yon, kahit tignan frame by frame ‘yung incident, kahit na anong nag-trigger para gawin niya ‘yon, I can easily say na walang sapat na dahilan. Second, walang dahilan sa pag-accost nung driver na rallyista sa jeepney, wala ring sapat na dahilan para saktan siya,” Magalong said.
(There is no sufficient reason to do that, even if we look at the incident frame by frame, whatever the trigger was for doing it, I can easily say that there is no sufficient reason to do it. Second, there is no reason for accosting the rallyist driving a jeepney and there is no sufficient reason to hurt him.)
“Obviously, may nakikita na kaming lapses doon pa lang sa video, nakita na namin kaagad lalong lalo na ‘yung (we have seen lapses in the video, we immediately saw it especially the) incident involving the jeepney driver. There’s so much unreasonable force applied to suppress the driver,” Magalong added.
Kho earlier told the media at the protest site that he did not deliberately hit the protesters but he was trying to escape from them, afraid that the rallyists would commandeer the van and use it to attack other anti-riot cops. The rallyists were seen hitting the van, which was vandalized with red paint, with wooden batons.
Senior Supt. Joel Coronel, chief of the Manila Police District (MPD), said Kho and other police officers in the dispersal may face administrative liability of gross misconduct for violating the police operational procedures and criminal charge of serious physical injury for hitting the rallyists.
Life in danger
Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief, said Kho felt that his life was in danger while the protesters were attacking and trying to flip over the vehicle.
Albayalde said that the militants chased Kho before he was able to get inside the car. He said Kho might have followed his instinct and decided to extricate immediately from the area where he was being surrounded by unruly protesters hurling paint and batons at the car.
“We saw in the video na talagang dinudumog ‘yung sasakyan at pinupukpok ng mga katakot takot na protesters. Tao rin kasi siya, tao rin ating mga pulis (that the vehicle was surrounded and the unruly protesters were hurling paint and batons at the car. He’s human, our police officers are all humans), he felt that his life was in danger also. Na-rattle siya siguro (He may have been rattled),” Albayalde said.
“He felt responsible for that property so he ran towards the vehicle at nakita siya ng protesters, hinabol siya. Pagpasok niya pinagpupukpok, hinampas ‘yung mobile car and ‘yon siguro naging instinct niya—to extricate from that place kasi ang dami ng protesters doon at magisa lang siya (and when the protesters saw him, they chased him. When he entered the vehicle, the protesters were hurling paint and batons at the car and that must have been his instinct— to extricate from that place because there were many protesters and he was alone),” he explained.
Albayalde said they would include in the investigation as to why the police vehicle was parked near the rallyists’ side fronting the line of cops.
“I was asking the contingent commander kung bakit nila pinayagan na ‘yung sasakyan nila (why they allowed their vehicle to be placed) is in front of them, not at the back. Doon papasok ‘yung investigation at (The would be the focus of the investigation and the) lapses committed during the dispersal,” he said.
A total of 35 policemen were hurt during the violent dispersal while 22 protesters suffered injuries.
The Manila police is bent on filing charges of illegal assembly, direct assault, malicious mischief and damage to property against the rallyists./rga
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