Around 600 members of a militant organization held an indignation rally in front of the Manila Police District (MPD) headquarters on Friday morning to condemn the violent dispersal of protestors who were staging a picket before the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday evening.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Tagalog chapter Secretary-General Arman Albarillo told The Manila Times that they tried to retrieve five of their members who were detained by the police but failed.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim later went to the MPD headquarters to move for the release of the five detained protestors, and a bystander who was also arrested.
The Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik)-Kilusang Mayo Uno said in their statement that out of the thirty injured, 17 had to receive hospital treatment because of the violent way the police dispersed the picket.
“The police harshly hit us like blood-thirsty animals, even hitting bystanders and those already on the ground and threatening students at a nearby school who simply raised their fists in support while we passed by,” the statement said.
A worker suffered a finger cut after a policeman allegedly tried to stab him with a knife.
MPD Director Supt. Rogelio Rosales Jr. said that only 13 were injured and 10 of them were policemen. Pamantik Chairman Romeo Legaspi disputes this claim.
“How could this be possible when it was the police who were on the offensive and who were armed with truncheons, beating whoever was on their way even if we were already moving away from the DOLE office?” he explained.
According to the after-rally report of the police, seven MPD members were hit and injured by stones, wood, and poles pelted by the protestors.
Nestor Villanueva, Jayson Higa, Emmanuel Dioneda and Phillip Nardo, and a bystander named Jay Aban were detained at the MPD headquarters after the dispersal.
The police filed charges of illegal assembly, assault upon an agent, robbery, and physical injuries against the protestors.
Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza said Marlon Torres, one of the protestors, was actually assessed to be under critical condition at the Ospital ng Maynila, but was forcibly discharged Friday morning and taken to the MPD headquarters.
“There can be no excuse for this barbaric act that once more puts the international human rights spotlight into the Philippines,” Maza said.
– Ruben D. Manahan 4th, Manila Times