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 ngPambansang 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.