Victims of violent dispersal at US embassy demand justice

PROGRESSIVE organizations demanded justice for the victims of the brutal police dispersal of protesting indigenous peoples in front of the United States Embassy in Manila Wednesday morning (October 19).

In a press conference held last October 20 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, the groups called on President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa to take action and punish Manila Police District officers for their violence against the victims.

According to Makabayan vice chairperson Neri Colmenares, Senior Superintendent Marcelino Pedrozo and PO3 Franklin Kho as well as other MPD personnel are guilty of violating Batas Pambansa (BP) 880 and of attempted murder.

“BP880 is about illegal assembly.  But there is nothing in it that allows the use of brutal methods. Does a group not having a permit make it alright to violently disperse them?” Colmenares asked.

“That kind of behavior is illegal, especially with the way they manhandled medics, minors and (members of the) media. The Manila police are clearly guilty of violating the same law they are trying to use against the rallyists,” Colmenares said.

Colmenares added, “BP880 states that you cannot file a case against a participant of a rally. You can do so against a leader, but not a simple participant like how they tried with this protest.”

“The fact that there was premeditation, superior strength and even treachery in play also means we can also charge them with attempted murder – at the very least,” Colmenares said.

The Makabayan bloc has filed a resolution to investigate the incident and condemning the police force for the violence. Progressive groups also call for accountability and firing of the policemen involved.

Police brutality

The protest was about to conclude when Pedrozo ordered the dispersal of the rally and the arrest of its participants, in violation of the agreement between the police and the ralyists before his arrival.

The police then fired teargas and began clubbing the demonstrators.

A police mobile unit, driven by Kho, ran over rallyists several times.

Police officers then proceeded to violently pursue, harass and arrest demonstrators, medics, media personnel and even bystanders filming the events.

At least 50 were injured, 18 of whom needed hospitalization.  At least 20 were arrested, including five medics, two minors and one media practitioner.

The arrested were released after at least three hours at MPD Precinct 5 along United Nations Avenue.

PNP’s lies

The PNP claimed that the violence was unintended, the protesters did not have a permit and who incited the violence.

PO3 Kho, for his part, said he did not intentionally run over the protesters whom he accused of trying to steal the police vehicle.

Their victims, however, presented video footage from various media outfits which they said showed Kho’s criminal intent to maim or kill as well as of Pedrozo ordering the dispersal and arrests for the MPD to save face with the US embassy.

According to Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes, there was no provocation from their side.

“We were down to our final speaker, but Pedrozo showed up and said that the police had shamed the US embassy, that the rally must be dispersed and that there must be arrests,” Reyes said.

“There were even policemen who hesitated to act because they understood that violence was senseless as the protest was peaceful and ending anyway. They were not provoked. They attacked first under Pedrozo’s orders,” Reyes said.

Reyes said they believe there was no need for a permit to protest.

“President Duterte has been fine with it all this time. Besides, we had been protesting for over an hour by the time they began their assault,” he said.

Colmenares added that the videos showed that the police violence was premeditated.

“In the videos, Pedrozo clearly ordered to disperse the rally, with or without provocation, because they would apparently shame themselves with the US embassy by allowing the rally to go for so long,” he said.

“Is Pedrozo ashamed, then, of President Duterte for condemning the US, telling Obama to go to hell, pursuing a strong foreign independent foreign policy?” Colmenares asked.

Why protest?

Majority of the protesters were indigenous peoples and Moro participants of the ongoing Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2016 who travelled to Manila to demand for respect of their right to self-determination over their ancestral domains and culture.

They were joined by progressive organizations led by Bayan as they also called for the immediate pullout of US military forces and corporate interests from their lands, as well as to express support for president Rodrigo Duterte’s call for an independent foreign policy.

“We have experienced the imperialism of the US, the massacres of our people and those who fight for us. This is why we were at the US embassy yesterday,” said Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson for the newly-formed indigenous peoples alliance Sandugo, said.

“We have been dishonored and brought to poverty by the control and meddling of the US in our areas,” Malayao, who was among those run over by Kho, added.

“We already face brutality and violence in our communities. Why must we be confronted with violence in the city as well, when we were only asserting our rights?” she lamented. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)

Peoples’ lawyers to file attempted murder charges vs MPD

National Union of People’s Lawyer chairperson Neri Colmenares explains why they intend to file attempted murder charges against Manila Police District officers who violently dispersed protesting indigenous peoples in front of the United States embassy in Manila last October 19.

In a press conference at the University of the Philippines a day after the incident, Colmenares explained there the police actions were unwarranted and with criminal intent. Read more

After violent dispersals, NDFP suspects PNP-AFP elements sabotaging peace process

THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel suspects elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are out to sabotage the peace process after the brutal police dispersal of an indigenous peoples-led rally at the United States (US) Embassy in Manila yesterday.

In a statement issued this morning, NDFP chief peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said it is most likely there are elements within the military and police who are against the new policy direction of their commander-in-chief, President Rodrigo Duterte, to pursue peace with the NDFP.

“The NDFP Negotiating Panel strongly condemns the brutal police dispersal of the peaceful rally of Lumads and their supporters in front of the US embassy calling for the scrapping of EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) and other unequal treaties with the US and an end to the US-instigated Oplan Bayanihan,” the statement said.

“We call on Pres. Duterte to discipline the police and rein in his troops.  They must be told to respect the people’s rights to peaceful assembly and free speech.  These rights are guaranteed in the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) constitution and in the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) signed by the two sides in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” the statement added.

The first GRP-NDFP peace negotiations collapsed in 1987 when the then Western Police District (now the MPD) violently dispersed protesters and killed 13 farmers.

Police brutality

 At least 50 protesters were injured when Manila Police District deputy commander Col. Marcelino Pedrozo ordered his troops to “fight” and “arrest” rally participants in order to save face with the US Embassy.

The police then broke its agreement with the protest leaders and started violently dispersing the rally with tear gas and truncheons.

A Police Officer 3 Franklin Kho then rammed his police vehicle against the protesters and ran over several activists.

Kho was also photographed violently pulling the hair of a woman protester through a jeepney window.  Kho was later reported to have punched Kilab Multimedia photojournalist Jaja Necosia who took the photo.

The police also ganged up on a hapless jeepney driver who was left bloodied and twitching on the street from blows to his head.

The PNP said it will investigate the incident.

Militarized communities

Part of the ongoing Pambansang Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya 2016, the rally was headed by newly-formed national minorities alliance SANDUGO and supported by various progressive groups like Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Anakbayan.

SANDUGO is an alliance of national minorities and indigenous peoples from Northern Luzon to Mindanao whose communities the NDFP said bear the brunt of military operations under the US-instigated Oplan Bayanihan.

“The lumad communities in Mindanao have not only suffered from the devastation of their ancestral lands as a result of the operations of foreign mining companies and agro-corporations.  Oplan Bayanihan has been used to protect these foreign companies against the opposition of the Lumads to the companies’ destructive operations.  Lumad communities have been forcibly evacuated and their leaders assassinated as in the recent case of Jimmy Saypan, the secretary general of Compostela Valley Farmers Association,” NDFP’s statement said.

“The rallyists were calling for the withdrawal of all US troops from the Philippines in accordance with Pres. Duterte’s policy statement on charting an independent course in foreign policy.  They also called for an end to the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan in view of Pres. Duterte’s declared policy of reaching a negotiated settlement to the armed conflict with the forces of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines,” the statement added.

SANDUGO also led the rally that was violently dispersed by the AFP with water cannons in front of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City last Tuesday.

The NDFP complained that the AFP has been violating Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire declaration.

“Apparently, parts of the military and police apparatus are still stuck in the old mindset of subservience and mendicancy to US imperialist interests contrary to their President’s avowed commitment to pursue an independent foreign policy.  Pres. Duterte has more than once reminded the US that the Philippines was no longer its colony.  He has declared that he would develop friendly relations with all countries including Russia and China and not be used by the US in its wars and conflicts with other powers as his predecessors had done before him,” the NDFP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)


VIDEO 2: Police runs over rallyists at US embassy

A peaceful demonstration of Indigenous Peoples umads  in front of the U.S. embassy in Manila turned into mayhem as a police transport vehicle (body marked NCRPO 145) ran over the protesters.

The police driver backed up fast and accelerated forwards four times, with clear intent to maim or kill.

There were no fatalities but a number of demonstrators were injured while at least 29 were arrested in one of the craziest police dispersal operation in Philippine history. (Video by ILPS Philippines) Read more

Police car rams through protesters; 50 injured

The Manila Police District violently dispersed indigenous peoples protesters this morning after its deputy director Marcelino Pedrozo ordered his troops to arrest and “fight back,” lest they lose face with the US Embassy.

This video shows an MPD vehicle ramming and running over at least ten protesters. Read more

50 injured as police vehicle rams IP protesters

By Abril Layad B. Ayroso / Photos by Reggie Mamangun

AT LEAST 50 were injured when a Manila Police District vehicle rammed indigenous peoples protesters in a violent dispersal at the United States Embassy in Manila this morning.

After being surrounded by protesters, a police vehicle with license plate SAA 5553 and National Capital Region Police Office markings backed up at high speed, apparently intent on hitting the victims.

After several meters, the vehicle accelerated forward and ran over protesters before backing up again, scattering activists trying to escape its rampage.

According to rights group Karapatan, 31 were also arrested, including two Lumad minors, after Superintendent Marcelino DL Pedrozo of the MPD ordered the dispersal.

Organizers of the Pambansang Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2016 said Pedrozo showed up at the rally already enraged and immediately ordered the arrest of the protesters.

Under Pedrozo’s orders, the police began pushing back the protesters that immediately became violent as the police fired tear gas at the retreating activists.

Some protesters who tried escaping through and around Plaza Salamanca across the embassy were violently apprehended, with the police even chasing and clubbing the fleeing protesters’ vehicles.

The violent dispersal is the second in two days after the group was also violently blasted with water cannons at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City yesterday.

Immediate condemnation

The violent dispersal immediately received condemnations from various human rights and indigenous peoples groups.

“We condemn the Manila Police District, and call on President Rodrigo Duterte himself to address this enraging incident, which has even surpassed the water cannon incident yesterday at Camp Aguinaldo,” Jerome Succor Aba, Suara Bangsamoro national spokesperson said.

“Is this how the government treats its national minorities? Is this the answer to our plea to stand up for national sovereignty and protect the interests of national minorities from the claws of Washington?” Aba asked.

Dulping Ogan, secretary-general of Kalumaran, blamed the US for the violent dispersal.

“The US can even order our police to attack our own people just to protect its embassy. This is a clear display of power, and highlights the urgency of our call to pull out US forces from the Philippines, especially in our ancestral lands,” Ogan said.

“Here in Manila, our calls are met with water cannons, and now teargas and brute force. In our ancestral communities, the attacks are far worse: we all know of the repeated cases of murders against our kin. Everywhere we turn, we Lumads and other national minorities are brutalized. Yet we will remain defiant. No amount of police brutality can dent the indefatigable and united spirit of the national minorities,” Ogan said.

The protesters proceeded to the Manila Police District headquarters to demand for the release of the arrested activists and condemn the police for the violent dispersal.

They are also demanding accountability from Pedrozo for using excessive force during the dispersal.

The national minorities travelled to Metro Manila to assert their rights to ancestral domain and self-determination as well as to demand the removal of US military and corporate presence from indigenous lands.

The struggle of the national minorities

During their rally, leaders of national minority groups spoke of abuses by the military who they accuse of acting as mercenaries of the US government and foreign corporations.

They said the militarization to their communities goes along with the destruction of the environment and their ancestral domains.

“Every single time the Americans show up, we can’t sleep, hunt or even eat in peace when they are so close to our communities,” Sonny Serrano of the Central Luzon Aeta Association said.

“The US Embassy and the military allow US soldiers to get away with crimes against indigenous people. Why must we tolerate such a system that puts Americans over indigenous peoples?” Serrano added.

Aba, for his part, added that the US not only promotes the destruction of the environment but also the discrimination on national minorities.

The Moro people of Mindanao fought the Americans to defend their ancestral domains that led to the Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak massacres where hundreds were massacred by US troops.

“They keep calling us Muslims terrorists, but who is the real terrorist here? Who has committed so many crimes against the people of the Philippines?” Aba added.

The US military is currently present in Mindanao, who President Duterte said must leave as soon as possible. # (With reports by Raymund B. Villanueva and Divine C. Miranda)

Police vehicle rams through indigenous peoples protesters in front of the US Embassy.

Police vehicle rams through and runs over indigenous peoples protesters in front of the US Embassy.

Katribu leader and Sandugo convenor Pia Macliing Malayao lies on the ground after being hit by the police vehicle.

Katribu leader and Sandugo convenor Pia Macliing Malayao lies on the ground during violent dispersal.

A protester bleeds after being clubbed by the police.

A protester bleeds after being clubbed by the police.

Injured and bleeding protesters being accosted by the police.

Injured and bleeding protesters being accosted by the police.