In Wednesday’s rally in front of the United States Embassy along the Roxas Boulevard, a militant group staged a peaceful demonstration in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s rather oblique foreign policy shift.
Nearly two hours into their program, truncheon-wielding members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) have decided to disperse the militant group which ensued a violent confrontation in front of the embassy. In an instant, emotions flared up with some members of the militant group ganging up on a PNP service vehicle.
Fearing for his safety, the unknown police officer-driver of the PNP service vehicle reversed the van into dozens of rallyists inflicting harm and then moved it forward to pinned down still another unidentified rallyist wearing a green shirt. The rallyist who was already under the police vehicle almost got killed.
In the aftermath of the melee, 30 demonstrators and 32 police were reportedly injured – probably the most violent confrontation between the police and militants in recent years.
Where is maximum tolerance? The rallyists held their program in front of the US Embassy in support of Duterte. The rallyists did not go there to thrash Duterte’s new foreign policy that tilts heavily on the number one bully in Asia – that is China.
The PNP must have mistaken the rallyists with users of illegal drugs and forgot all about maximum tolerance.
“I am saddened and angered,” said PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa. “Police forces are under strict instructions as a matter of policy, to exercise maximum tolerance in such public assemblies.” There goes maximum tolerance – into the dustbin.
Dela Rosa on Thursday suspended dozens of officers involved in violent clashes with protesters apparently angered at one of his men ramming activists with a van. It was uncalled for. And these are the men in uniform who pledged to protect the people.