Filipino pro­test­ers want po­lice in dis­per­sal pun­ished

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MANILA: Hun­dreds of Filipinos protest­ing Fri­day out­side the pres­i­den­tial palace burned a mock US flag and asked Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte to pun­ish po­lice of­fi­cers for bru­tally dis­pers­ing an anti-US rally and ram­ming a van into some of the ac­tivists. About 1,000 left-wing pro­test­ers, car­ry­ing plac­ards that read “US troops out now” marched 3 kilo­me­ters to the pres­i­den­tial palace in Manila to con­demn the vi­o­lent po­lice ac­tion and seek jus­tice for those in­jured.

Protest leader Piya Malayao, who was among those hit by the van in Wed­nes­day’s rally at the US Em­bassy, walked with crutches, her right leg ban­daged. She and other pro­test­ers handed a let­ter to of­fi­cials in which they asked Duterte for jus­tice. “That ac­tion coming from the po­lice could have re­ally taken a lot of lives,” Malayao said, adding the pro­test­ers would file crim­i­nal com­plaints against the of­fi­cers. “That at­tack (was) re­ally meant to kill our peo­ple.”

Po­lice say the pro­test­ers had no rally per­mit and at­tacked of­fi­cers. Nine of­fi­cers have been re­moved from their posts, in­clud­ing the van driver, while a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­ducted. The driver, Franklin Kho, told re­porters he did not de­lib­er­ately hit the pro­test­ers but was try­ing to drive away be­cause they were hit­ting the van and he feared they would com­man­deer it.

Hit­ting pro­test­ers

Ral­lies are com­mon at the heav­ily-guarded sea­side em­bassy in Manila’s tourist district, and po­lice have wielded shields and ba­tons against the large crowds pre­vi­ously. But Wed­nes­day’s ac­tions against more than 1,000 left-wing stu­dents, la­bor­ers and tribal peo­ple have been seen as among the most bru­tal in re­cent years. That’s largely be­cause of the van hit­ting pro­test­ers, but po­lice were also seen us­ing a firetruck hose, lob­bing tear gas and hit­ting peo­ple and pulling their hair.

Videos of the van hit­ting the pro­test­ers like bowl­ing pins have gone vi­ral on­line. As­so­ci­ated Press TV footage showed the van re­peat­edly ram­ming the pro­test­ers as it drove wildly back and forth af­ter ac­tivists sur­rounded and started hit­ting it with wooden sticks. Hor­ri­fied pro­test­ers are heard scream­ing and curs­ing at the po­lice. Malayao and a few oth­ers were hit and in­jured, some hos­pi­tal­ized. Law­mak­ers have also called for a con­gres­sional in­quiry. US-based Hu­man Rights Watch urged na­tional po­lice chief Ron­ald dela Rosa, who has ex­pressed dis­may over the vi­o­lent dis­per­sal, to carry out an im­par­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cute those be­hind the vi­o­lence.

“Fail­ure to do so will only guar­an­tee that the cul­ture of im­punity for un­law­ful po­lice vi­o­lence con­tin­ues,” HRW said in a state­ment. Wed­nes­day’s pro­test­ers were de­mand­ing an end to the pres­ence of vis­it­ing US troops in the Philip­pines and to sup­port Duterte’s vow to chart a for­eign pol­icy not de­pen­dent on the US, the coun­try’s long­time treaty ally. The vi­o­lence hap­pened as the po­lice and Duterte are un­der in­creased in­ter­na­tional scru­tiny for their al­leged role in the killings of thou­sands of drug sus­pects and push­ers as part of the tough-talk­ing pres­i­dent’s war on il­le­gal drugs. — AP

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