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Liberal solons condemn violent dispersal of anti-US rally

/ 02:38 PM October 20, 2016
A police patrol car rammed the protesters and ran over some at an anti-US rally outside the US embassy. SCREENGRAB FROM AP VIDEO

A police patrol car rammed the protesters and ran over some at an anti-US rally outside the US embassy. SCREENGRAB FROM AP VIDEO

Liberal Party lawmakers from the “legitimate” minority bloc in Congress condemned the violent dispersal of an anti-US protest action at the US Embassy on Wednesday.

In a statement, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat criticized the police for violently dispersing his fellow indigenous peoples at the rally that escalated when a police patrol car rammed the protesters.

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WATCH: Police van runs over protesters at anti-US rally 

“I strongly condemn the overreaction of the Manila Police in this violent dispersal. I also call for the Philippine National Police to conduct the necessary investigations and to bring to justice the parties responsible for this blatant attack on the lives of the protestors violating their constitutional rights to assembly and expression,” Baguilat said

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“Nothing can justify this savagery by elements of the State, especially against unarmed citizens,” he added.

Baguilat lamented the police forces’ failure to exercise maximum tolerance when a patrol vehicle rammed the protesters and ran over them. The police denied running over the protesters, claiming the militants were the ones trying to flip over the car.

READ: Police deny running over protesters at US Embassy

“Is this how we mark Indigenous Peoples month? The lumads, IPs, and other protestors are unarmed citizens, and even if they were unruly, it is to be expected. Our laws and jurisprudence have already indicated that the police should exercise maximum tolerance during protests,” Baguilat said.

“As such, these activities are expected to be more disorderly because the greater the grievance and the more intense the sentiment of protestors, the less control their leaders have over them,” Baguilat added.

For his part, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said it seemed the culture of violence due to the spate of summary killings of drug suspects spawned another kind of violence in the police dispersal of lumad protesters at the US Embassy.

“The creeping culture of violence emanating from government’s war on drugs that has spawned unabated summary killings has been dramatized by the sudden violent dispersal that injured some 50 protesters,” Lagman said.

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Lagman said the police attack on the protesters only proved that the police have no respect for human rights, sending a “chilling effect” buoyed by President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement urging the police to kill drug suspects when under attack.

“The police attack on the protesters proves that the uniformed men and women have no respect for human rights and civil liberties. This sends a chilling effect as it can continue to escalate as the police are emboldened by the incessant exhortation of President Duterte to the members of the PNP to kill perceived lawbreakers when necessary,” Lagman said.

Lagman said the “brute force” of the police violated the constitutional rights for freedom to peacefully assemble to express grievances.

“The use of force and violence to suppress political dissent is anathema to democracy. Democracy is sustained by differing even conflicting views and opinions that are ideally resolved by consensus and never by force and violence,” Lagman said.

Lagman said he supports an impartial investigation into the incident.

Earlier, the Makabayan bloc filed a resolution urging the House committee on human rights to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation on the incident.

House probe
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.

READ: Police officer denies deliberately hitting protesters at US Embassy

The anti-US protesters in the demonstration 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.

READ: ‘We were provoked’ – cops at US Embassy

The violence escalated when the police rammed the mobile car onto the protesters, dragging some under the 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 to 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 to 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. JE/rga

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TAGS: Activist, Indigenous people, lumad, militant, police van, Probe, protest, rally, violent dispersal
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