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On the violent dispersal of protesters at the SONA rally

Posted on 24 July 2012 by admin

Press Statement
July 24, 2012

Bayan condemns the violent dispersal of rallyists who joined the July 23 rally against Aquino’s State of the Nation Address. The incident was sparked by the illegal police blockade that prevented the protesters from reaching their destination. We hold the Aquino government, the City Government and the Philippine National Police as responsible for the violence that occurred yesterday. Bayan and its allied groups have scheduled a protest action on SONA day to highlight issues of poverty, human rights, unemployment, foreign mining and plunder, and US military intervention but were prevented from reaching Batasan Road.

Initial reports indicate that 95 were injured, with 21 being brought to the East Avenue Medical Center. Among those injured were students, priests and church workers, and community workers and organizers.

As explained by our counsel in the National Union of People’s Lawyers, Bayan had the legal basis to march beyond EVER Gotesco and on to Batasan Road because Bayan applied for a permit before the Quezon City Government as early as July 10 and that the application for permit was not acted on the by the City Government within the required two days.

Because of this, the application is deemed granted under the provisions of Batas Pambansa 880. The application itself shall serve as the permit. The police therefore was violating the law when it blocked the protesters with anti-riot cops, steel railings, concrete barriers, dump trucks and container vans. The police were lying when the ground commander said that they had not received any permit because they knew full well that Bayan complied with the legal requirements.

Throughout the day, the protesters maintained that the blockade was illegal and sought to assert their right to march towards Batasan Road. This was true for the contingent of urban poor groups who marched via Litex Road and Batasan Road and almost reached the North Wing of Congress before being dispersed by the police.

The protesters from the EVER Commonwealth side also asserted their right to march to Batasan. For too long, the PNP, City Government and National Government have gotten away with violating the law and the Constitutional rights of the protesters by imposing their illegal blockades and totally disregarding legal processes. The protesters sought to challenge the illegal actions of the police.

Protesters acted in self-defense when they stopped the rampaging dump truck that threatened to run over the students. The dump truck belongs to a private contractor and has no business being involved in crowd dispersals because it’s not even part of the police. Halos masagasaan na ang mga nagpo-protesta habang nakatingin lang ang mga pulis. The police actions and inaction that day further added to the frustration and anger of the protesters.

Bayan is documenting the cases of the injured protesters. As of 11 PM last night, all those who were brought to East Avenue Medical Center have been discharged. It is still looking into other particular incidents during the confrontation. ###


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