Police van rams into protesters at anti-US rally
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 were trying to enter the embassy,” Mr 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 afterward trapped underneath the stationary van, with his leg and hips under one of the back tyres.
Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde confirmed the police van hit protesters but insisted the driver was not at fault.
“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.
Mr Duterte has launched abusive tirades against US President Barack Obama and warned he may eventually cut ties altogether, after the US government raised alarm over thousands of people killed in Mr Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.
Mr Duterte is currently in Beijing on a mission aimed at improving ties with China and attracting billions of dollars of Chinese investment to the Philippines. –