“Sandugo condemns this as a terrorist act by the PNP.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Protesters are set to file administrative and criminal charges against members of the Manila Police District involved in the Oct. 19 brutal dispersal in front of the US embassy, which they condemned as “state terrorism.”
In a press conference today, Oct. 20, leaders of the Kilusan ng Moro at Katutubong Mamamayan para sa Sariling Pagpapasya (Sandugo) said that they want to see Police Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo Jr., PO3 Franklin Kho and all other involved police personnel behind bars. The Philippine National Police today had ordered Pedrozo, Kho and seven other MPD officers relieved from their post.
At least 30 protesters were injured when a rampaging pjolice mobile driven by Kho plowed down protesters in front of the US embassy. Police also blasted the rallyists with a water cannon, fired tear gas, and mauled them with truncheons, injuring dozens more.
“Sandugo condemns this as a terrorist act by the PNP,” said Jerome Succor Aba, spokesperson of Suara Bangsamoro and lead convenor of Sandugo. “Pedrozo should be jailed as the brain of the bloody dispersal, along with Kho and all others involved,” he said.
This time, the police may just get a dose of their own medicine, as the protesters are set to charge them with violation of Batas Pambansa (BP) 880, the martial law-era law which police usually slap on protesters. BP 880 aims to regulate rallies and requires protesters to have a permit.
“It was an unprovoked dispersal…it does not say in the Public Assembly Act that police may disperse because a rally has no permit, said former Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares, also of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).
Colmenares said such justification falls in the same logic of the Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) issued by the Arroyo administration in 2005, which the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional in 2006. The high court said CPR “is used by some police agents to justify abuses.” He also cited how medics and drivers were among those arrested by police, when the law provides that only rally leaders and organizers can be arrested and charged.
Colmenares said they are still considering charging the police with other cases, such as attempted murder, because of the presence of its elements: “premeditated, superior strength and treachery.” He said they will file charges against the police in the Ombudsman next week.
Cristina Palabay of Karapatan said in her Facebook post that they documented at least 42 arrested, including 31 who were brought to the MPD Station 5, and 11 wounded who were brought for treatment to two hospitals but remained heavily guarded by police. All those arrested had been released on recognizance as of today.
“The rally had gone on for almost an hour, and the program was just wrapping up. Suddenly Pedrozo arrived and we clearly heard him say to violently disperse the rally. Then PO3 boarded the vehicle – nobody tried to take it away, nobody tried to hurt him or turn it over – he revved it up and drove back and forth,” Aba said.
Among those mowed down was Sandugo spokesperson Piya Macliing Malayao, who had been discharged from hospital and arrived in the press con in crutches, her right leg in a gutter cast.
Almirah Lidasan, Suara Bangsamoro national chairperson, told Bulatlat that they will also file complaints with the Joint Monitoring Committee of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines for the violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl).
In Congress, Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago filed House Resolution 486 urging the House of Representatives to condemn the violent dispersal and conduct a probe.
Police brutality caught on video
The Sandugo presscon also presented videos by Pinoy Media Center and Pinoy Weekly which disputed police claims that they had to defend themselves from rallyists. The videos showed several angles of the police mobile ramming into protesters back and forth four times, hitting several people.
After PO3 Kho got off the mobile, video showed him going after several Lumád on board a jeepney, and grabbing one woman by the hair. When Kho realized he was being videotaped, he then punched Jaja Necosia, the videographer.
Pedrozo was also caught on video by GMA News 7, telling police men that they should “fight back” and disperse the rally, because it was embarassing to the US embassy. The Sandugo protesters managed to hurl red paint and deface the US embassy seal.
In another GMA News video, several policemen were also seen ganging up and mauling jeepney driver Raymart Sumalbag (earlier reported as Raymark Sumalbang), 23, a member of Piston National, who was repeatedly hit in the head by police with truncheons.
Sumalbag, who sustained traumatic head injuries, was rushed back to the hospital shortly after he was discharged from hospital early today. He fell dizzy and started vomiting, said Dr. Julie Caguiat, executive director of Community Medicine Development Foundation (Commed).
A youth activist interviewed by Bulatlat said a police man grabbed and handcuffed her, after which, two police women tried to hide her from other rallyists. Charles Noay, 18, a member of Anakbayan-Cagayan de Oro, told Bulatlat that she failed to read the name cloths of the two police women because she was tightly wedged between them, as they covered her behind their shields.
One police woman, whom she described as “tall, slightly chinky, with short hair,” elbowed her in the face even as she was crying hysterically. The other, who was “smaller, heavy-built” covered Tambagan’s mouth and threatened to gag her with a truncheon. Tambagan was finally released by police after a photographer saw her and called the attention of other rallyists.