Philip­pine po­lice van runs over protesters

> Demon­stra­tors try­ing to en­ter US em­bassy, says cop

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

MANILA: A Philip­pine po­lice van yes­ter­day rammed and ran over ba­ton­wield­ing protesters out­side the US em­bassy in Manila.

Po­lice used tear gas and trun­cheons to try to dis­perse hundreds of peo­ple who had gath­ered in sup­port of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s re­cent com­ments that he wanted to loosen his na­tion’s al­liance with the United States.

A to­tal of 23 protesters were ar­rested, said Chief In­spec­tor Arse­nio Ri­parip, one of the of­fi­cers over­see­ing the in­ci­dent.

He said the protesters broke through the line of po­lice se­cur­ing the em­bassy’s gates.

“We had to dis­perse them. They started it. They were try­ing to en­ter the em­bassy,” Ri­parip said.

“We had to use tear gas. They over­pow­ered our po­lice­men.”

A po­lice van re­versed quickly back into a crowd of dozens of protesters and then for­ward, run­ning over at least two peo­ple and bang­ing into oth­ers, footage broad­cast by lo­cal tele­vi­sion net­work ABS CBN showed.

Pho­tos showed a grey-haired man af­ter­wards trapped un­der­neath the sta­tion­ary van, with his leg and hips un­der one of the back tyres.

In a state­ment, Manila po­lice chief Os­car Al­bay­alde con­firmed the po­lice van hit protesters but in­sisted the driver was not at fault.

“They weren’t re­ally run over,” Al­bay­alde said, re­fer­ring to the protesters.

“The ral­ly­ists were try­ing to flip over the pa­trol car. In the process, the driver ex­tri­cated the pa­trol car and in­ad­ver­tently hit some un­ruly protesters who sus­tained mi­nor in­juries.”

One of the protest lead­ers, Ami­rah Li­dasan, ac­cused the po­lice of start­ing the vi­o­lence.

“It was the po­lice who at­tacked the protesters. First they rammed the po­lice ve­hi­cle against the peo­ple. Then they re­leased tear gas and hit us with trun­cheons,” she said.

While the Philip­pines is a de­fence ally of the United States, Duterte – elected pres­i­dent in May on a ruth­less anti-crime plat­form – has said he wants to dis­tance the coun­try from Amer­ica.

Duterte has launched abu­sive tirades against US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and warned he may even­tu­ally cut ties al­to­gether, af­ter Wash­ing­ton raised alarm over thou­sands of peo­ple killed in his an­tidrug cam­paign. – AFP

AFPPIX

Protesters lie on the ground af­ter be­ing hit by a po­lice van dur­ing a rally in front of the US em­bassy in Manila yes­ter­day.

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