SONIC DE­VICE A ‘NEW ANTI-PEO­PLE WEAPON’

Po­lice de­fend use of sound can­non; mil­i­tant groups warn against ill-ef­fects on hear­ing

Sun.Star Cebu - - NATION - / SUNS­TAR PHILIP­PINES

Not just wa­ter can­nons, but sound can­nons, too.

Po­lice have lev­elled up in their de­fense against ri­ots, protests and un­ruly crowds with the use of a sonic weapon, such as the de­vice used to dis­perse ral­ly­ists dur­ing Mon­day’s protests against the visit of United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Po­lice de­fended its use of a sonic weapon while mil­i­tant groups con­demned the move, de­scrib­ing it as “a new level of state vi­o­lence.” National Cap­i­tal Re­gion Po­lice Of­fice ( NCRPO) Di­rec­tor Os­car Al­bay­alde said the long range acous­tic de­vice (LRAD) that riot po­lice used dur­ing Mon­day’s clash with pro­test­ers in Manila is not fa­tal and causes only dis­com­fort.

Bayan Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Re­nato Reyes, on the other hand, said the sonic weapon can harm one’s hear­ing while Gabriela Women’s Party Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Emmi de Je­sus and Ar­lene Brosas said the weapon causes hear­ing trauma, per­ma­nent hear­ing loss and lin­ger­ing headaches.

De Je­sus and Brosas said they plan to file a res­o­lu­tion seek­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the use of such a de­vice, which they de­scribed as an anti-peo­ple weapon.

On Mon­day, pro­test­ers from dif­fer­ent mil­i­tant groups clashed with riot po­lice as they at­tempted to march to­wards the Philip­pine International Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, where the 31st As­so­ci­a­tion of the South­east Asian Na­tion (Asean) Lead­ers Sum­mit is be­ing held.

Riot po­lice used wa­ter and sound can­nons to stop the pro­test­ers, who have started to breach the bar­ri­cade. At least six po­lice­men and 10 ral­ly­ists were hurt, ac­cord­ing to the Manila Po­lice Dis­trict.

On its web­site, LRAD Corp. de­scribed its long range acous­tic de­vice as a long-range com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem used to broad­cast warn­ing tones and highly in­tel­li­gi­ble voice mes­sages to po­ten­tial threats from close range up to three kilo­me­ters.

Al­bay­alde said the de­vice does not have any harm­ful ef­fect.

“Mas masakit po iyung wa­ter can­non lalo na ‘pag so­brang lakas ang pres­sure, para ka na pong si­n­un­tok n’yan (The wa­ter can­non is more pain­ful es­pe­cially if it’s high pres­sure. It’s like be­ing punched),” he added.

Reyes de­nied that the pro­test­ers had be­come vi­o­lent.

He con­demned the use of the LRAD and crit­i­cized the po­lice for us­ing the weapon with­out any clear guide­lines.

De Je­sus and Brosas of Gabriela de­scribed the use of LRAD as “a new level of state vi­o­lence.”

“The lat­est anti-peo­ple weapon of the PNP must be probed and op­posed. Hindi pwe­deng paglaruan lang nila ito kada may mo­bil­isas­yon para pag­tak­pan ang galit ng ma­ma­mayan. Hindi biro ang epekto nito sa pan­dinig at kalusugan ng mga nasa pagk­i­los, at mag­ing sa ka­pulisan mismo,” Rep. Brosas said.

“PNP’s use of the sonic weapon brings the Duterte regime’s vi­o­lence to a whole new level, and high­lights the coun­try’s pup­petry, with LRAD made in Amer­ica,” De Je­sus said.

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