ILOILO City – Youth and lawyers groups denounced in the strongest terms the spate of violent dispersal against national minorities and their supporters while staging a protest at the United States Embassy, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City early morning today.
Sandugo, a new alliance formed by Moro and indigenous peoples from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, was about to end their protest action in front of the US embassy denouncing US imperialist backed counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, when they were fired with teargas and water cannon. Around 50 protesters, three of which in critical condition, were hurt when police vehicle run amok, and 29 others were illegally arrested including a doctor, a nurse, a medical volunteer and a member of the media.
“The Philippine National Police (PNP) did it again,” said Atty. Rene Estocapio, general secretary of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Panay, “after police’s “fascist culture” once more worked when it attacked protesters peaceably staging a rally.”
“On that instance, there was a murderous intent on the officer who ordered the assault, and the driver who rammed the prowl car on the unarmed crowd,” Estocapio added.
Yesterday, Sandugo also held protest in front of Camp Aguinaldo calling for the pull-out of military troops from their communities, the end of human rights abuses, and respect for their right to self-determination.
As the contingents were approaching the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) National Headquarters, they were violently hosed out with water cannons.
“The violent response of the AFP and the PNP manifests consistent records of their human rights abuses against the Moro and indigenous peoples and their supporters,” Anakbayan Panay chairperson Bryan Bosque said.
The protests were part of 2 week-long “Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya” that seeks to highlight their calls for the pull-out of military troops from their communities, the end of human rights abuses, and respect for their right to self-determination.
“These series of violence committed by the AFP and PNP is a clear indication that they are peace saboteurs jeopardizing the ongoing talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Duterte government,” Bosque said.
“The violent dispersal also proved the AFP and PNP’s non-commitment to President Duterte’s vision for peace citing the pattern of killings, harassment, and militarization in the countryside under then President Noynoy Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan are still continuing.”
The youth leader cited the recent killings of Lumad leader Jimmy Saypan on October 12, young Lumad activist Anoy Pasaporte on October 13, Cagayan Valley peasant leader Ariel Diaz and the massacre of 4 farmers in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija last month.
Pursuit of Independent Foreign Policy
The Sandugo protest at the US embassy also expressed support of President Duterte’s independent foreign policy by breaking the decades-old unjust ties with the US, an end to subservience that past Philippine regimes practiced.
“Even as Duterte avowed an independent foreign policy, the PNP still act as running dogs of the US,” Bosque said.
“The culture of fascism still thrives within the ranks of the PNP, which impels them to use unnecessary force against its own people, unarmed protesters peaceably assembling, against an imperial that has plundered the country and exploited its people since 1898,” Estocapio said.
“Anakbayan is consistent on its demand to junk the Oplan Bayanihan which is the blueprint directed to the killing of Lumad and peasant leaders, widespread militarization of countryside, and persistence of human rights violations,” Bosque stressed.
Militant groups are set to hold condemnation action tomorrow.
“We demand justice for the victims of PNP brutality! We call on the Commission of Human Rights to investigate, especially Manila Police District Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo who ordered the needless assault and SPO3 Franklin Kho, the driver of the prowl car,” Estocapio said.
The youth group urged President Duterte to act after the pro-US and ultra-rightist within the military and police who are working against the people’s interests, dismantle paramilitary groups organized and funded by the AFP, and pull-out all military forces from ancestral domains and communities of national minorities. (Rosana Inaudito | panaytoday.net)