Policemen, including elements of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) dispersed member of a youth group conducting a signature campaign against the weekly oil price hikes and the economic crisis.
BY CYE REYES
Posted by Bulatlat
Volume VIII, No. 28, July 20-26, 2008
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – Members of the youth organization Anakbayan were harassed and violently dispersed during their protest action in the city’s public market, July 12.
The protesters were conducting a signature campaign against the weekly oil price hikes and the current economic crisis at Kayang Street when local policemen tried to stop their program and asked for a permit.
While the negotiation was going on, police reinforcements arrived along with eight elements of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) brandishing long firearms.
Leaders of the youth group were still trying to assert their freedom of speech and assembly when the police turned on sirens to muffle the protesters’ calls while some officers started to drag the protesters and confiscate their flags and placards.
Vendors and market-goers questioned the presence of the heavily armed forces.
When some members of the media arrived, the SWAT forces hid their firearms inside their vans.
According to a statement released by Anakbayan, these actions by the ‘Baguio’s Finest’ are meant to repress progressive organizations from voicing out their views on the current economic state.
The group said, “We could not help but wonder what justifies the violence done to groups collecting signatures in protest of government neglect on the concerns of the basic masses.”
The protesters’ megaphone, the wires of their mobile sound system and placards were forcefully confiscated.Northern Dispatch / Posted by (Bulatlat.com)