Frustrated Killing, violent dispersal of protesting national minorities

As of October 23, 2016

I. CASE PROFILE
Violation/s : Frustrated killing, Illegal arrests, Physical Assault and/or Injuries, Violent Dispersal of Mass Actions, Public Assemblies and Gatherings, Violation of the Rights of Medical Personnel

Date of Incident : October 19, 2016 
Place of Incident : Outside the United States Embassy, Roxas Boulevard, Manila

II. VICTIM/S
1. Frustrated Killing and Illegal Arrest
Piya Argee Malayao, 28, secretary general of Katribu and convenor of Sandugo alliance of national minorities, brought to and arrested at the Philippine General Hospital
Valeria Catubigan, 61, Lumad peasant, member of indigenous peoples’ organization Kasalo-Caraga brought to and arrested at the Philippine General Hospital
Nicole Soria, member of Kabataan Partylist, sustained multiple injuries, including dermal abrasions on chin, left arm, extending to her chest, brought to and arrested at the Ospital ng Maynila
Raymark Sumalbag, 23, member of Piston and jeepney driver, sustained multiple injuries, brought to and arrested at the Ospital ng Maynila

2. Illegally arrested individuals brought to the Manila Police District Station 5, UN
Avenue, Manila; also victims of physical assault (32 individuals):

Lumad farmers from Mindanao: Dionisio Abear (sustained head injuries) and 16 others 
Lumad minors namely “Lorejane”, 13, and “Lorraine”, 14
Health workers from the Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR) namely Dr. Julie Caguiat, Adam Lacson, Alyssa Ismael, Yolanda Zabala, and Stephanie Mante
Two members of Piston, an organization of public transport drivers and operators 
Paralegal from Karapatan – Ofelia Beltran-Balleta
Cultural worker from the Concerned Artists of the Philippines – Ipe Soco
Women’s rights activist from Gabriela – Julie Ann Castillo
Ibon International staff – Lyn Pano
Journalist from Southern Tagalog Exposure – Wencestoni Balanquit
Member of Anakpawis partylist - Julius Lumacang 
Almost all have injuries resulting from the police dispersal and the manner of arrest by police officers. 
3. Injured and arrested individuals brought to the Philippine General Hospital (9 individuals):

Reynaldo Moldon, 64, Mangyan peasant, member of indigenous peoples’ organization Habagat
Ryan Naong, 43, member of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Davao
“Mimi”, 16, member of Anakbayan-PUP
“Ronald”, 16, member of Anakpwis Quezon City
A youth member of indigenous peoples’ organization Kasalo-Caraga
A member of Bayan-Southern Tagalog
A member of Pig Akuman

All have injuries resulting from the police dispersal through teargas, use of wooden batons and truncheons, the ramming of the police mobile against the protesters, the manner of arrest by police officers. 

4. Victims of Violation of the Rights of Medical Personnel
Health workers from the Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR) namely Dr. Julie Caguiat, Adam Lacson, Alyssa Ismael, Yolanda Zabala, and Stephanie Mante
5. Victims of Violent Dispersal of Mass Actions, Public Assemblies and Gatherings – an
estimated 1,500 individuals who participated in the said protest action.

6. Other victims of physical injuries not mentioned above – at least 15 individuals
whose injuries were treated by the Health Action for Human Rights 

III. PERPETRATOR/S

Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, Chief, District Public Safety Battalion, Manila Police District
P03 Franklin Kho, District Public Safety Battalion, Manila Police District
Estimated 200 elements of the Manila Police District, Philippine National Police


IV. BACKGROUND:
More than 3,000 Moro and indigenous peoples from all over the country travelled to and gathered in Manila for the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya (Caravan of National Minorities) 2016. The Lakbayan is the third caravan of national minorities since 2014 when Lumad and Moro people travelled to Manila to demand for food, just and lasting peace and human rights. 
This year’s Lakbayan calls for a just and lasting peace through the cessation of military operations in their ancestral lands and fascist attacks against Moro and indigenous peoples and to uphold and assert national sovereignty and the people’s right to self-determination against US imperialism.
A series of protests and activities were conducted as part of the Lakbayan. On October 19, the indigenous peoples trooped to the US embassy to support the call for an independent foreign policy.
 
V. ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENT:

On October 19, 2016, at 10:00 in the morning, more than 1,000 members of Sandugo, the recently formed alliance of national minorities, and progressive groups led by Bayan converged at T.M. Kalaw St. in Manila to conduct a protest action in front of the US embassy along Roxas Boulevard. The main body pushed towards the US embassy at around 10:30 a.m.

When the contingent reached the Museo Pambata, about 50-60 police personnel from the Manila Police District (MPD) blocked the road. A number of policemen beat the protesters with wooden batons. A member of Anakpawis was wounded in the head.

Police personnel onboard a firetruck used water cannons in an attempt to disperse the protesters, but the protesters managed to get hold of the fire hose.

While the scuffle between the police and the protesters was happening, members of progressive youth group Anakbayan and partylist group Bayan Muna, who are supporting the national minorities marched from Plaza Ferguson and were able to approach the main gate of the US embassy. Upon seeing that the police guarding the gates of the US embassy were outnumbered, the policemen blocking the main body of the mobilization ran towards them. The protesters from T.M. Kalaw Street also ran towards the embassy and were able to get close to the main gate of the embassy.

Three police vans were used to block the US Embassy main gate. The skirmish between the protesters and the police continued until both parties negotiated and agreed to take a step back.

Suddenly, people standing in the sidewalk called out to the protesters, saying that a Lumad child was taken by the police. The protesters asserted to gain custody of the child, who was calling and crying out for help, but she was guarded and hidden behind the shields of at least five policewomen. 

The members of the contingent negotiated with the police for the release of the child and eventually, the protesters were able to get custody. However, the child passed out from too much exhaustion. She was also tightly handcuffed. 
 
After the incident, leaders of Sandugo and Bayan had a negotiation and both parties agreed  that the police will stay where they were and the protesters will move back a little. The protesters agreed and took five steps away from the police. Thereafter, a peaceful program was held for almost two hours.

When the rally program was about to end and there were only three speakers left, Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, chief of the District Public Safety Battalion of the Manila Police District, arrived and berated his men. A video footage of GMA-7 showed that Pedrozo was telling his men that they should disperse the rally, even through violent means, and that he will be embarassed before US embassy officials if they do not do something about the incident. He angrily lectured the police on why the did not arrest anyone and instructed them to hit the protesters. 

Later, Pedrozo confronted the Bayan leaders and told them that he was embarrassed by what the protesters did on the insignia of the US embassy and complained that the uniform of his men were splattered with paint.  

The emcees were wrapping up the program and the contingent was already getting ready for an organized dispersal when Col. Pedroza gave the orders for the violent dispersal of the protesters. 

A plainclothes officer identifying himself as a colonel approached BAYAN Secretary General Renato Reyes and told him that there were already orders to disperse the crowd and that the district director for MPD was very upset with what happened to the embassy.

Suddenly, four canisters of tear gas were fired in the air and landed across the street. The police contingent behind a police vehicle started to approach the protesters. The engine of a parked police mobile started to accelerate and drove back and forth many times, hitting a throng of protesters. Seeing the intent to of the driver of the police mobile to kill and maim them, the protesters threw placards, mineral water bottles, sticks, among others, to defend themselves and to attempt to stop the driver from doing what they described as a “savage and deliberate act.” 

Nicole Soria, 18, was one of the protesters ran over by the police mobile. She was seen on the video footages rolled over by the mobile. She sustained multiple abrasions on her chin, left arm and chest. 

Piya Argee Malayao, 28, secretary general of Katribu and convenor of Sandugo, alliance of national minorities also sustained wound on her right leg. She was arrested and was brought to the PGH.  

The driver of the police mobile was later identified to be P03 Franklin Kho.

Even as the protesters were already badly wounded, the police tried to arrest them while in the custody of the medical team. Five members of the medical team of the Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR) were also arrested.

The policemen continued to chase after and violently accost and arrest the wounded and helpless protesters. In one of the footages, police officer Kho, the driver of the police mobile who rammed the protesters, was caught on camera pulling the hair of a Lumad woman inside a jeepney. Kho punched the cameraman when he sensed that he was caught on video.

Drivers of jeepneys carrying the indigenous peoples hurriedly drove away from the area. However, the police were swinging their wooden batons and hitting the jeepneys as they fleed. They were able to stop one jeepney, and they pulled out and beat the driver named Raymark Sumalbag repeatedly using their wooden batons. Sumalbag fell to the ground with blood on his head. He was left unconscious and it took a while before another driver brought him to the hospital. The passengers, mostly Lumad peasants, were forcibly taken out of the jeepney and were arrested.

At around 12:30 noon, the arrested protesters most of whom are members of national minorities were brought to the MPD. They were made to sit on the corridor of the the General Assignment Investigation Service of the MPD. Dr. Julie Caguiat, arrested member of the medical team, requested that Dionisio Abear be immediately brought to the hospital due to the wounds on his head. The police said that there is no available vehicle that will bring Abear to the hospital. They insisted that Abear be given first aid in the police station, but their pleas were not heeded. At the rally site, members of the medical team already told arresting police officers that Abear should be brought to the nearest hospital, but the police told them that according to their “protocol,” Abear should be brought to the police station first. 

There were also two minors who were arrested and were later turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development Section Desk. 

As of latest report of Karapatan paralegals, there were 43 protesters illegally arrested, eleven of them were injured and brought to the Philippine General Hospital and Ospital ng Maynila, where policemen guarded them and further harassed them. 

At around 1:00 pm, the rest of the contingent from the Lakbayan went to the MPD Station 5 at UN Avenue to hold an indignation rally and demand for the immediate release of the arrested protesters. 

Before 2:00 pm, Atty. Ephraim Cortez, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) arrived at the police station. An hour after, Atty. Jun Oliva also from NUPL arrived. However, Atty. Oliva was initially denied access to the arrested protesters. The police told him that there is already a lawyer inside. He was later allowed to enter when Atty. Cortez said that the protesters still need the representation of another lawyer. 

The police told the lawyers that they need to get the names, birth dates and addresses of all the arrested individuals, that they will be brought before the prosecutor, and that the prosecutor will recommend that their case will be for further investigation and will eventually release all of them.

Later, the police talked to the lawyers and told them that there is no need to bring the protesters to the prosecutor. All they need is to instruct the rest of the protesters holding an indignation rally outside the police station to move to Plaza Salamanca and they will already release the protesters. This agreement also covered all the wounded protesters who were arrested and brought to the hospitals.

At 3:39 pm, all of the arrested individuals were released on recognizance of Atty. Cortez and Atty. Oliva. They joined the rest of the contingent waiting for them at Plaza Salamanca at TM Kalaw Street. The eleven (11) injured protesters were brought to the Philippine General Hospital and Ospital ng Maynila remained in the said hospitals until they were discharged. 

Paralegals from Karapatan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Children’s Rehabilitation Center conducted interviews and group discussions among the arrested protesters, rally leaders and witnesses to document their accounts. Health workers from HAHR continued to tend to and assist the injured protesters in the two hospitals. Several video footages and pictures are also being gathered by NUPL and Karapatan. 

Recommended actions:
Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

1.       The immediate independent investigation on the October 19 violent dispersal at US Embassy, 
2. Hold the Philippine National Police, specifically the Manila Police District ground commander Co. Marcelino Pedrozo who ordered the violent dispersal, P03 Franklin Kho who deliberately rammed protesters with the police mobile and other police officers involved in hurting the rallyists. 
3. The Philippine Government to indemnify injured protesters and drivers. 
3.       The Philippine government to draft and implement a genuine independent foreign policy.
4.      The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians, and which secures interests of private and mining corporations vis-à-vis people’s rights; and
5.       The Philippine Government to adhere and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all major Human Rights instruments that is a party and signatory
 
You may send your communications to:
 
You may send your communications to:
 
H.E. Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/
 
Hon. Jesus Dureza
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
Email: stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph, feedback@opapp.net
 
Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: info@dnd.gov.ph, webmaster@dnd.gov.ph
 
Hon. Vitaliano Aguirre
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline:  523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email: communications@doj.gov.ph
 
Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com
 
Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:
 
 
URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central,
Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org; karapatan@karapatan.org
Website: www.karapatan.org
 
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