[Urgent Appeal] Violent Dispersal of Protest Action of Civil Society Organizations during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III -TFDP

URGENT APPEAL

July 24, 2013

(PHILIPPINES) Violent Dispersal of Protest Action of Civil Society Organizations during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III

Issues: Violent Dispersal; Harassment and Intimidation; Arbitrary Arrest and Detention; Human Rights Defenders; Freedom of Expression and Right to Organize; Physical Injuries; Command Responsibility

TFDP logo small

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Dear Friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the violent dispersal of demonstrators perpetrated by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) at the Southbound lane of Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines during the protest against the SONA of President Aquino on July 22, 2013 and is seeking your help to end violations against the Freedom of Assembly.

Around twenty (20) persons were hurt during the dispersal and one (1) person was arbitrarily arrested during the incident.

If you wish to make any inquiries, please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP at # 45 St. Mary Street, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines 1109 or call +632 4378054 or email tfdp.urgentappeals@gmail.com.

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FACTS OF THE CASE

Around 20 demonstrators were hurt and 1 person arbitrarily arrested in a violent dispersal during a protest action in Commonwealth Avenue Quezon Cityon July 22, 2013 at around 3 PM. The protest was in line with the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III.

The group of around 2,000 protesters led by the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) were shifting towards the southbound lane of the avenue when around 250 members of the PNP immediately blocked them and instructed them to leave.

Leaders of FDC tried to initiate a dialogue and negotiate with the police to allow them to continue their protests. However, Police Ground Commander Senior Superintendent Norberto Mabagay allegedly instructed the members of the PNP to push the demonstrators back to the northbound lane of the avenue. They also started grabbing the streamers and flags of the protesters.

Further violence erupted when members of the PNP cornered and attempted to pull out FDC leaders from the group. Some protesters at the frontline fell to the ground as the PNP continued pushing them. After a while, some of the PNP started shoving their truncheons and wooden sticks against the protesters.

Some of the demonstrators claimed that they were punched and kicked by members of the PNP who were wearing combat boots. They also noted that many of the PNP were not wearing their name tags.

The scuffle stopped when the demonstrators pleaded to the police to stop since there were already a number of persons injured. Among the casualties were Rasti Delizo, Aaron Pedrosa, Sammy Gamboa, Rapha-el Olegario and Alex Castro, who all obtained bruises and abrasions during the dispersal.

The police also claimed that they were also hurt during the dispersal and arrested Vincent Coronacion, 19 year old son of a member of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) who came to the rally to accompany his mother. The police alleged that Vincent threw the rock that hit one of the police and were recommending that he be charged with multiple cases; resistance and disobedience upon an agent of a Person in Authority, Malicious Mischief, Direct Assault, Physical Injuries and Violation of BP 880. He was only released on July 23, 2013.

 

REQUESTED ACTION:

PLEASE SEND LETTERS TO THE CONCERNED GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO:

a) Investigate officers and members of the PNP deployed in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City during the SONA for their violent dispersal and if they are found to have committed grave abuse of authority for their excessive use of force against the Civil Society demonstrators and be held accountable for their actions.

b) Assurance from the PNP will use Maximum tolerance during protest activities and no similar violent action will be taken against protesters.

c) Guarantee the means for demonstrators to express and act freely in conformity with the bill of rights and freedoms as stated in the Philippine Constitution;

d) Guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards.

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear _________________,

RE: Violent Dispersal of Civil Society Group

I am writing you to draw your attention regarding the violent dispersal of a protest rally during the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III.

I have learned that around 250 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) tried to disperse 2,000 demonstrators affiliated with the Freedom from Debt Coalition FDC) by using excessive means that elicited violence, that caused the injury of around 20 protesters.

It was also brought to my attention that after the incident, a young man from the group, Vincent Coronacion was arbitrarily arrested by the Police and recommended to be charged with multiple cases and was only freed a day after his arrest.

I am asking the concerned government agencies to investigate the actions taken by the PNP, as well as appropriate sanctions to be given if they have used excessive force.

I am also asking for the assurance of the concerned government agencies that no such repeat of this violence be done to protesters.

Finally, in view of the above mentioned information, I urge you to act quickly to correct this situation and ask that you inform us of the outcome of your investigation.

Respectfully yours,

____________________

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Benigno Simeon Aquino III

PRESIDENT

Republic of the Philippines

Malacañang Palace

JP Laurel Street, San Miguel

Manila 1005

PHILIPPINES

Fax: +63 2 7361010

Tel: +63 2 7356201/5641451 to 80

Email: corres@op.gov.ph/opnet@ops.gov.ph

 

2. Mr. Mar Roxas

Secretary

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)

A. Francisco Gold Condominium II

EDSA cor. Mapagmahal St., Diliman

Quezon City

Philippines 1100

Fax: +63 2 9250332

Tel: +63 2 9250330/9250331

Email: mar@marroxas.com/maia@marroxas.com/mbunico@dilg.gov.ph

 

3. Mr Herber Bautista

Mayor, Quezon City

3rd Floor, High-Rise Building

Elliptical Road, Brgy. Central

Diliman

Quezon City

Philippines 1100

Fax: +632 9216750

Tel: + 632 9884242 local 8300 to 8307/ 9243592

Email: mayor@quezoncity.gov.ph/ http://www.quezoncity,gov.ph

 

4. Police Director Alan LM. Purisima

Chief

Philippine National Police

Camp General Rafael Crame

Quezon City

Philippines

Fax: + 632 7248763/7230401

Tel: + 63 2 7264361/4366/8763

Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

 

5. Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales

Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

SAAC Bldg. Commonwealth Avenue

U.P. Complex, Diliman

Quezon City

Philippines

Tel: +632 9285655/9266188

Fax: +632 9290102

Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com

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Kindly inform or copy-furnish tfdp.urgentappeals@gmail.com of urgent appeals sent to above government officials for monitoring purpose. Thanking you in advance for your time on this important and urgent matter.

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