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With the Philippines and ally United States currently amidst opening the joint military exercises, protestants from different indigenous groups along with Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) members flocked the US Embassy compound to conduct a rally.
With undisclosed reasons, the rally held on Wednesday turned into a violent commotion.
From a video footage taken by ABS-CBN during the height of the protest, many rallyists started assaulting a police vehicle that then on led to the retaliation of the authorities as they ran over the protestants. Despite the hasty attempt of the people to ran for safety, some were still hit by the vehicle.
"The dispersal at the US embassy happened as the rally was about to end. Last speaker na. It was planned and ordered by one Col. Pedrozo," Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes stated in a post on Facebook.
Reyes also claimed that three of the 10 people who were brought to the hospital due to the incident were students. While 18 other indigenous people along with a member of the media, a doctor, nurse and health volunteer have been arrested and are now under the custody of Manila Police District Headquarter. According to inquirer, 50 protestants were injured.
Police Officer 3 Franklin Kho, the police who drove the vehicle claimed that his act was in response to the protestant's attempt to flip the vehicle over.
"Inaagaw ng mga raliyista yung sasakyan, kaya napilitan akong kunin yung sasakyan, kaya napaatras ko. Yun ang nangyari. Kami naman ang sasagasaan nila kung nakuha nila ito. Mas marami madidisgrasya sa amin," he defended.
Furthermore, Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde of NCRPO also denied the claims saying it was an act of defense from the security forces.
"Hindi naman sila sinagasaan (They weren’t run over). The rallyists were trying to flip over the patrol car," he said. "In the process, the driver extricated the patrol car and inadvertently hit some unruly protesters who sustained minor injuries."
He also emphasized that aside from the casualties on the side of the protestants, 32 civil disturbance management cops were also injured. He stated that they plan on filing charges of illegal assembly and direct assault against the protestants who were arrested.
"While we respect the freedom of assembly and speech in exercise of democracy, we cannot tolerate violations of the law and breach in peace and security by people who tend to go beyond it. Democracy does not mean that the law of the land can be ," Albayalde added.
According to Reyes, police authorities also used a tear gas in the attempt to disperse the thousand anti-US protestors. He also claimed that they arrested up to 29 people in the rally.
"There was absolutely no justification (for the police violence), Even as the president avowed an independent foreign policy, Philippine police forces still act as running dogs of the U.S," Reyes said.