Wednesday, 19 October 2016
iDEFEND strongly condemns the mowing down of protesters near the US embassy yesterday, and the firing of water cannons at them in front of Camp Aguinaldo last Tuesday.
The rallies called for a stop to militarization and intrusion of foreign corporations in ancestral territories and the end of EDCA. The groups further demanded an end to the presence of U.S. troops in the country, supporting what they believe to be the call for an ‘independent foreign policy’ by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The President’s call for investigation stopped short of condemning the use of brute force against the rallyists who traveled from different parts of the country to air their grievances. The commander-in-chief has command responsibility over their actions and should have stated the inacceptability of such forms of violence.
The public saw that rather than maximum tolerance and restraint, the violent action of the police showed a complete disregard for the lives of the people. Protesters including indigenous elders and women were run over by a police car, a woman’s hair pulled by the police, a driver beaten in the head until he lost consciousness, and several others dragged and severely beaten up before the very eyes of the public, as videos of the dispersal spread like wildfire in the quad-media.
Five remain confined with serious injuries while others are still under police custody.
The conduct cannot be divorced from the conduct that has exhibited violence and impunity in the first one hundred days of the Duterte administration with more than four thousand extra-judicially killed as a result of his violent and hard-line approach to drugs and criminality.
Though we welcome the move of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) which ordered for an administrative relief of police officials involved in the violent dispersal, we demand for an impartial investigation and immediate filing of criminal as well as administrative sanctions for those responsible.
iDefend has been reiterating that political violence has no place in a democratic society. There is nothing that can justify the inhuman act against those who were just exercising their freedom of speech and assembly.
Clearly, the police and military were emboldened by the President’s promise of protection amid mass killings by the uniformed groups.
This brazen act of violence shows the prevailing culture of brutality among the police force who are now acting above the law.
If they think that they can get away with murdering handcuffed drug suspects for allegedly resisting arrest, it is not surprising that they would not think twice to mow down anyone who are exercising their constitutional rights.
We stand in solidarity with the protesting indigenous people, the Moros, the rural poor communities. They, like us, are human rights defenders. We stand steadfast in the face of attacks against the people’s democratic rights as well as any form of curtailment of such rights.
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity (iDEFEND) is a grassroots movement that defends the rights and upholds the dignity of all Filipinos. It engages with the government, educate and organize the public and transform collective voices into public action. iDEFEND works towards the realization of a rights-based governance that is anchored on respect for due process and rule of law.
For more details pls contact:
ROSE TRAJANO Secretary General Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) iDEFEND Secreatriat email@example.com Tel/fax (632) 436-26-33 Mobile : 0917-308-2409 ELLECER CARLOS Mobile: 09176494065