THE brutal dispersal of the peaceful protest in front of the US Embassy on Wednesday must be denounced and investigated, and the perpetrators prosecuted. There was no acceptable reason for the use of violence against the peaceful protest demanding the rejection of US intervention and domination in the country.
A police vehicle ran over the protesters several times. Later, policemen were hurting other protesters during the dispersal. They used teargas, truncheons and shields. About 30 protesters were wounded and 43 illegally detained by the Philippine National Police.
It is beyond appalling that the protesting national minorities experienced consecutive violent dispersals, first at the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, then in front of the US Embassy. Do state forces have entrenched hostility against them?
It is more infuriating that the attacks on our national minorities continue in the city. Moro and indigenous people are already suffering relentless military and para-military attacks in their communities and ancestral domains. They travelled to Manila to voice out their sufferings and seek justice, but they are met with unacceptable hostility.
The government should not only investigate this violent dispersal. It should hold the culprits into account. While the national minorities were in Manila to draw attention to the continuing killings and militarization of their communities in the countryside, the same state fascism and violence are perpetrated against them even in the national capital. The police brutality and impunity are expressions of extreme discrimination against indigenous peoples and national minorities, who are not seen as human beings with the right to protest and to voice out concerns.
The brutality must not be viewed in a vacuum. We should return to its context: national minorities were protesting to call for the immediate pull-out of US troops in the country, especially those occupying ancestral lands and territories. This latest incident is a blatant display of impunity, one that prevails over a country where no justice has been rendered for victims of rights violations.