International groups condemn brutal dispersal of protesters in front of the US Embassy while Philippine lawyers expose police harrassment of victims
1. From ICHRP – Korea (with photo)
STATEMENT OF CONDEMNATION
of the violent and murderous dispersal of Indigenous People’s Protest Mobilization on October 18-19, 2016 in front of Camp Aguinaldo and the United States Embassy in Manila.
We vehemently condemn the series of violent and contemptuous dispersal of the protest mobilization of the newly-formed alliance of Moro and indigenous people for self-determination dubbed SANDUGO (One blood) together with organizations of farmers, workers and other sectors of Philippine society.
For two consecutive days, part of their Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya (caravan of the national minorities), they have been protesting against militarization of peasant and indigenous peoples’ communities. They were met with brutal force by the same institutions perpetuating violence in the countryside.
On Tuesday, October 18, in front of Armed Forces Camp Aguinaldo in Cubao, Quezon City, they were hosed down with water cannons where many were drenched and traumatized how they were treated at the center of power which they think can provide safety and security for them.
We strongly denounce the brutal and murderous dispersal on the participants of the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya perpetrated by the police on Wednesday, October 19 in front of the U.S. Embassy in Manila. We have seen on video and read the account of the incidents how the participants were shot with teargas, mauled, and deliberately rammed and run over by a police vehicle during the demonstration.
We are disheartened seeing the extent of brutality of the police such as the mauling of a jeepney driver of a service vehicle of the indigenous people and how the police vehicle was rammed and run over people. It was a merciless attack on the very lives of people, with the intention to kill as many as the police officer can. It has reached to our attention that 31 participants were arrested and more than 50 were injured, including minors, women and the elderly.
We are appalled by the culture of impunity that strongly manifest in the conduct of police management, such as what Police Supt. Marcelino Pedroso did, that while the protest rally was winding up, he ordered his men to disperse the rallyists with tear gas and truncheons. Although the rally was peaceful, his sense of human empathy failed. Taking the lead from him was PO3 Franklin Kho driving the police patrol vehicle rammed and run over the participants not just once but several times. It is deplorable for such persons in authority to kill their own people just to defend the interest of United States.
We are further informed that:
The lumad communities in Mindanao have not only suffered from the devastation of their ancestral lands as a result of the operations of foreign mining companies and agro-corporations. Oplan Bayanihan has been used to protect these foreign companies against the opposition of the Lumads to the companies’ destructive operations. Lumad communities have been forcibly evacuated and their leaders assassinated as in the recent case of Jimmy Saypan, the secretary general of ComVal Farmers Association.
The rallyists were calling for the withdrawal of all US troops from the Philippines in accordance with Pres. Duterte’s policy statement on charting an independent course in foreign policy. They also called for an end to the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan in view of Pres. Duterte’s declared policy of reaching a negotiated settlement to the armed conflict with the forces of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
We therefore demand the following:
1. Relieve from their posts Police Supt. Marcelino Pedroso and all police officers who have carried out the brutal and murderous dispersal of the peaceful rally of the indigenous people.
2. The government should immediately stop and dismantle Oplan Bayanihan. All indigenous peoples displaced due to militarization should be restored to their communities and their rights to their land should be protected.
3. The government of President Rodrigo Duterte should conduct reorientation training program for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police on the content, strategy and conduct of independent foreign policy and the development of friendly relations with other countries.
4. We call on Pres. Duterte to discipline the police and rein in his troops. They must be told to respect the people’s rights to peaceful assembly and free speech. These rights are guaranteed in the GRP constitution and in the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) signed by the two sides in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
REV JEONG JIN-WOO
Global Council Member
REV. JANG CHANG-WEON
Director, Asia-Pacific Workers Solidarity League (APWSL)
MR. CARLO OLIVER
Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea (KASAMMAKO)
International League of Peoples Struggle
2. From ICHRP – Canada
Perpetrators of the brutal dispersal of indigenous people’s rally must be held accountable
A Statement of the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada
The International Coalition on Human Rights – Canada condemns in the strongest terms the brutal police attacks on the people who were rallying at the United States embassy in Manila on October 19, 2016. Protestors were demanding the withdrawal of US troops from the Philippines. Most of the rally participants and many of the 50 injured were indigenous peoples from across the country who gathered in Manila to bring attention to the continuing militarization in their communities and human rights violations committed against them.
Videos of the horrific incident showing police officer, Franklin Kho, plowing his vehicle through the crowd plainly show his intent to cause injuries to the protestors. Similarly, the other officers shown beating people who were already leaving the area evidently intended to cause them harm. These are criminal acts and the perpetrators must be held accountable.
In his early days, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed the police to exercise maximum tolerance for protest rallies, recognizing the basic right of citizens to express dissent. The barbaric attacks committed by the police against the protestors on October 19 were in blatant defiance of the President’s policy.
Furthermore, the violent dispersal of the protest is a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. We strongly support the Peace Talks between the GRP and NDFP to find a just and lasting solution to the 47 year armed conflict. We are deeply concerned that the peace talks could be jeopardized by police policy and actions that continue to violate human rights such as what happened on October 19.
We welcome the decision of Philippine National Police Director General, General Ronald de la Rosa, to relieve Officer Franklin Kho, Colonel Marcelino Pedrozos who reportedly ordered the violent dispersal and the other officers who committed violent actions during the incident. In order to prevent future police brutality against citizens exercising their right to protest, we call on General de la Rosa and President Duterte to take further step, namely, ensure that the investigation into the incident is impartial, thorough and fair, prosecute the perpetrators of the brutality committed against the protestors and bring them to justice.
Furthermore, we respectfully call on the President to address the grievances of the Lumad and indigenous peoples about the continuing military operations in their communities. We urge the President to ensure that military troops withdraw from their villages and stop the attacks on their communities. ##
3. From IBON International
Also available at: http://iboninternational.org/article/2016/10/denounce-violence-and-police-brutality-against-ph-national-minorities-0
Denounce violence and police brutality against PH national minorities!
Hold state forces to account for injuries and violation of people’s rights!
IBON International Statement
IBON International demands justice for the indigenous and Moro peoples and their allies who were brutally dispersed by officers of the Manila Police District (MPD) last Wednesday afternoon, October 19. The demonstrators were about to end their program when the police started to disperse them.
The demonstration at the US Embassy was led by SANDUGO, a new alliance of Moro and indigenous peoples, in opposition to militarization and the plunder of their ancestral lands. They were met with police forces violating even their basic human right to assembly.
We condemn the inexcusable use of a police van to ram and tread over demonstrators during the dispersal. During the protest itself, teargas, water cannons, and truncheons were also used against the groups. Around 50 protesters were hurt, some seriously injured.
We condemn, in addition, the illegal arrests of around 30 protesters, which included indigenous peoples, medics, and even a member of the press. We denounce the use of the law and the police apparatus against the people they were supposed to “serve and protect.”
Just a day before the brutal dispersal, national minority groups were also sieged with water cannons in front of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo. They demanded to end /Oplan Bayanihan/, the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency operations patterned after the US COIN (counterinsurgency guide), which continue to threaten their communities.
Moro and indigenous peoples groups from around the Philippines traveled from their communities to Quezon City as part of the /Lakbayan ng/ /Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan /(Caravan of National Minorities for Self-Determination and Just Peace)/, /a campaign to uphold national minorities’ rights to their ancestral lands and self-determination. They oppose the terrorizing entry and presence of the US and Philippine military in their ancestral lands. These, among other violations of human rights in the countryside, hinder the people from producing their basic needs and accessing local natural resources.
We decry the blatant disregard of police forces for the people’s welfare, as they implemented MPD’s Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo’s command of defending the US Embassy building even at the expense of disorder and violence. We hold Pedrozo, deputy director of the MPD, accountable for the brutality and deplore his seeming subservience to the US whose interests he was protecting.
We demand to call into account the police officers who brutally assaulted protesting members of national minority groups, especially PO3 Franklin Kho, driver of the police van that rammed and ran over protesters. We condemn the denial, in media statements of the Philippine National Police, of the offensive tactics used against the demonstrators.
We call for justice for the injured, and for the Moro peoples and national minorities who experience worse violence in their respective communities. We stand in solidarity with them in calling for the immediate pullout of US troops from the Philippines and an independent foreign policy.#
4. From Asia Pacific Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (APCCHRP)
Stop social impunity
Bring the perpetuators of dastardly acts to the bar of justice
The Asia Pacific Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (APCCHRP) condemned in strongest possible terms the violent dispersal and the run-over of PNP vehicle driven by PO3 Franklin Kho against hundreds of Moro, Lumads and other indigenous people and human rights and peace activists protesting outside the US Embassy on October 19, 2016 that resulted to serious physical injuries of more or less 50 protesters, 3 student activists have been hospitalized and the arrest of 29 other activist including members of a medical team who are attending to the injured.
There is no amount of police procedure that could justify these highly condemnable, violent and barbaric dispersal of the Philippine National Police as ordered by Col. Marcelino Pedrozo against the indigenous people who are peacefully protesting against US military intervention in the Philippines.
The peaceful rally outside the US Embassy in Manila is part of a weeklong program of Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya headed by SANDUGO, an alliance of national minorities in the Philippines. Members of national minorities such as Lumad, Moro, Mangyan, Agta, Igorots, Dumagats among others journeyed to Metro Manila from their ancestral lands in Mindanao, Southern Tagalog and North Luzon to call the Duterte government to respect and uphold their ancestral domain and their rights to self-determination.
The national minorities or indigenous people have long been suffering from government neglect and deprivation of basic social services. But the Philippine government instead of addressing the plight of the indigenous people, it further put them in poverty and sufferings through intensified militarization and fascism. In cohorts with large mining companies and plantation owners, the previous governments deployed the Armed Forces of the Philippines to indigenous communities to harass, abduct, kill, massacre and commit other forms of human rights violations to frighten the IPs and force them to leave their ancestral domain to allow foreign owned large mining companies to plunder the country’s natural resources.
But the IPs prove that no amount of state atrocities and fascism can cower and stop them to collectively fight for their rights and dignity. They brave the heat and rains and the long journey to reach Metro Manila not only to bring their plight to Duterte government but also to express their solidarity and support to the government’s call for independent foreign policy. Most importantly, to the on-going peace negotiation between the GRP and NDFP that will address the root causes of armed conflict and poverty.
The highly condemnable, violent and barbaric dispersal of the Philippine National Police outside the US Embassy as well as in front of the Department of National Defense against the peaceful mobilization of indigenous people are clear violations of the right of the people to mobilize as stated in GRP’s Constitution and By-Laws and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by GRP and NDF.
The APCCHRP knew that the leadership of Philippine National Police relieved the 29 members of PNP that instigated the said violent and barbaric dispersal. However, relieving from their positions is not enough. Social impunity in the country must end. PNP leadership should immediately charge, arrestand put behind bars the perpetuators of these dastardly acts against indigenous people.
US Troops out of the Philippines now!
Yes to independent foreign policy!
Fight for the ancestral domain!
Respect IPs and Moros right for self-determination!
Justice for the victims!
Justice for IPs and Moro people!
Arrest the perpetuators!
5. From Migrante Australia (with photos below)
21 October 2016
No to police brutality! Uphold Indigenous Peoples right to self-determination!
Migrante Australia is outraged by the vicious attack committed by the police on an otherwise peaceful protest action by the Lumads and their supporters outside the US Embassy in the Philippines. The rallyists were calling for an end to the presence of US troops – scrapping of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and other unequal treaties with the US, and an end to the US-instigated Oplan Bayanihan. It was also a show of support for President Duterte’s independent foreign policy.
Even with instructions from President Duterte (who was in China when the violent dispersal happened) to exercise maximum tolerance when policing rallies, the police water cannoned, tear-gassed, truncheoned and most horrifyingly, used a police van to repeatedly run-over protesters. Colonel Marcelo Pedrozo chose to “not to lose face” with US Embassy officials by ordering his men to attack those who were merely exercising their right to peaceful assembly. Such dereliction of duty is contemptible!
The rally was part of the ongoing Pambansang Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya 2016, a mobilization for the defence of land, the environment and human rights. The indigenous peoples are in Manila to draw attention to the continuing killings and militarization of their communities in their ancestral lands.
The indigenous peoples were at the forefront of the rally for a reason – they bear witness to the brutal military operations under the US-initiated Oplan Bayanihan. They have direct experience of US military presence and intervention. In Mindanao, lumad ancestral lands have been devastated by operations of foreign mining companies. Oplan Bayanihan protects these companies against opposition by the lumads by forcibly evacuating communities, closing down schools and assassinating lumad leaders.
The unprovoked attack on the protesting lumads and their supporters was an attack to the right to self-determination of indigenous peoples. It was also in defiance of President Duterte’s support, respect and understanding of the plight of the lumads of Mindanao. It is possibly also be a deliberate move to cast a shadow on the ongoing peace talks in the Philippines.
There was no need whatsoever to exercise brute force on the peaceful rally. The police should serve and protect the Filipino people’s interests. The police should not stop the Filipino people from exercising their right to freely express their opinion and their right to assemble. But no, the police acted with such impunity!
We call on President Duterte to investigate and punish the Philippine National Police officials and personnel responsible for the brutal dispersal.
We also call on President Duterte to heed the call of indigenous peoples to immediately halt and withdraw Oplan Bayanihan or any other counter-insurgency program.
We call for an end to police brutality. Justice for the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines! Respect and uphold their right to self-determination!
6. From groups in Rome (ICHRP – Rome, Italy Filipino Friendship Association and Umangat Rome; with picture attached)
ROME, ITALY- Members of Umangat-Migrante, ICHRP-Rome and the Comitato di Amicizia Italo-Filippino (Italy-Philippine Friendship Association) held a candle light protest in front
of the Philippine Embassy last night to condemn the recent dispersals of mass actions in the Philippines.
Calling the dispersals “violent and inhumane,” Luciano Seller of the Comitato di Amicizia Italo-Filippino urged the Philippine government to look into the incident.
“Indigenous people in the Philippines have suffered enough with military occupation in their communities, only to meet more ruthlessness and violence from the Manila police when
they are holding a peaceful protest,” Seller said.
Alex Reyes, Secretary General of Umangat-Migrante expressed anger at how the police continue to act as “lapdogs of the US’ while President Duterte himself is calling for an
independent foreign policy.
“It is time that the Philippine police learn to protect and serve the Filipino people instead of protecting the interests of the United States.” # (Pom Cahilog-Villanueva)
NUPL Advisory to Philippine National Police (PNP)
The National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL), counsel for Mr. Raymark Sumalbag and the other victims of the October 19, 2016 dispersal at the U.S. Embassy, is seriously concerned over the attempts of persons in uniform to talk to their clients without their presence.
Yesterday, several policemen visited Mr. Sumalbag in his residence unannounced. The policemen tried to ask him questions and make him sign a document without explaining the nature of the same. Yesterday, several uniformed men went to the kampuhan of the Lakabayanis at the University of Philippines, Diliman, and made inquiries as regards the victims who were injured during the dispersal.
Mr. Sumalbag was the jeepney driver who was mercilessly brutalized by policemen just as he was fleeing the violent dispersal. For obvious reasons, he felt threatened and harassed and is now in fear for his life and safety after such visit. The other victims also feel the same.
Mr. Sumalbag and the other victims of the violent dispersal wish not to be approached, interviewed and/or asked for any statements without our presence and assistance as their counsels. Hence, from this point on, all communications must be directed to us. We expect your cooperation.#
Atty. Ephraim Cortez
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
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