PNP’s ‘sonic at­tack’ jeered, jus­ti­fied

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - METRO - By Vince F. Nonato and Jean­nette I. An­drade @In­qMetro —WITH RE­PORTS FROM DEX­TER CABALZA, AIE BALAGTAS SEE

Its pierc­ing sound is meant to si­lence pro­test­ers—or at least leave them dis­ori­ented and eas­ier for an­tiriot forces to con­tain.

But even for mil­i­tant groups who no are no stranger to be­ing hosed down or beaten with trun­cheons, the use of a “sonic weapon” against them is an act of es­ca­la­tion on the part of the Philip­pine National Po­lice (PNP).

At least three law­mak­ers on Tues­day called for a House in­quiry into the PNP’s use of a long range acous­tic de­vice (LRAD) against the pro­test­ers who staged a rally in Manila on Mon­day in time for the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (Asean) sum­mit.

Gabriela Women’s Party rep­re­sen­ta­tives Ar­lene Brosas and Emmi de Je­sus said the use of an LRAD showed an “in­tent to harm” pro­test­ers who were stopped by the po­lice on Taft Av­enue, 3 kilo­me­ters away from the Philip­pine International Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, the sum­mit venue.

Health con­cerns

Brosas raised health con­cerns that the de­vice could pose on its tar­gets, such as hear­ing trauma, per­ma­nent hear­ing loss and lin­ger­ing headaches.

“The lat­est an­tipeo­ple weapon of the (PNP) must be probed and op­posed. They can­not just play with it ev­ery time there’s a mo­bi­liza­tion to cover up the rage of the peo­ple,” Brosas said, adding that the PNP should dis­close how much was spent on the equip­ment.

“Its ef­fect on the hear­ing and the health of pro­test­ers and even the po­lice is no joke,” she added.

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Car­los Isagani Zarate de­nounced LRAD’s use as “in­hu­mane” due to its “long-last­ing dam­age” on the pro­test­ers’ health.

“Based on a study, more than one sec­ond of ex­po­sure to a 121 deci­bel noise could cause ring­ing in the ears, headaches and even ver­tigo. But the LRAD is said to gen­er­ate 137-140 deci­bels and it was used for sev­eral minutes dur­ing the rally,” Zarate said.

A hefty piece of equip­ment usu­ally mounted on a ve­hi­cle, an LRAD blares out a loud, pierc­ing sound re­sem­bling a car alarm, with an in­ten­sity of 143 to 153 deci­bels, and a range of 1.5 to 3 km.


Sought for com­ment, National Cap­i­tal Re­gion Po­lice Of­fice (NCRPO) chief Di­rec­tor Os­car Al­bay­alde con­firmed the use of an LRAD on pro­test­ers on Mon­day, but main­tained that the de­vice is non­lethal and only causes tem­po­rary dis­com­fort.

The PNP’s use of an LRAD was not even new, ac­cord­ing to Al­bay­alde, who re­called that it was also de­ployed dur­ing the Ar­royo and Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tions, mainly dur­ing big ral­lies like those timed with the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress.

Us­ing it again on Mon­day “was the call of the com­man­der on the ground (Se­nior Supt. Le­muel Obon) and we re­spect his call,” the NCRPO chief ex­plained. “It was needed dur­ing that time. Most likely (his men) were be­lea­guered and feared that the pro­test­ers might be able to get through (their line).”

He pointed out that 28 po­lice­men were hurt when the rally turned vi­o­lent.


Mil­i­tant groups are back at Men­di­ola in Manila for an­other rally against vis­it­ing US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day, a day af­ter the po­lice used a long range acous­tic de­vice (left) against an­other protest ac­tion timed with the Asean sum­mit.


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