The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday decried the police’s use of water cannon to disperse protesters rallying against the proclamation of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice-president-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio.
In a press statement, CHR Executive Director Jacqueline de Guia reminded the Philippine National Police (PNP) to exercise maximum tolerance during peaceful protests as mandated under Batas Pambansa (BP) 880 or the “The Public Assembly Act of 1985.”
Around 300 protesters trooped to the CHR office in Quezon City earlier in the day to rally against the proclamation of Marcos, son and namesake of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and Duterte, the daughter of the current President. They said that the water cannons fired at them by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) injured more than ten people.
We strongly remind the PNP against the use of water cannons and the carrying of firearms during a non-violent protest in line with the prohibitions outlined in BP 880. Some protesters also alleged the use of unnecessary force against them which resulted in injuries,” said De Guia.
“During peaceful protests, police officers are expected to exercise maximum tolerance. This policy requires the avoidance of the use of force and restricting it to the minimum extent necessary, especially when handling non-violent protests. In accordance with existing laws and human rights standards, a peaceful dispersal must be lawful, necessary, and proportionate to the purpose,” she said.
For its part, the QCPD said they “managed” the protesters when they supposedly attempted to illegally occupy Commonwealth Avenue, the main road leading to the House of Representatives where the Joint Canvassing of votes were done.
“Because of the Civil disturbance management skills displayed by QCPD personnel the rallyists were able to conduct their protest in accordance with their program while the traffic situation along Commonwealth Avenue remains to be fast-moving and the members of the National Board of Canvassers and their support staff arrived on time at the House of Congress to fulfill their constitutionally mandated tasks,” QCPD Chief Brigadier General Remus Medina said in a press statement.
“Mananatili ang maximum tolerance ng ating kapulisan at ang paggalang ng karapatan ng mga tao na ipahayag ang kanilang mga opinyon sa pamamagitan ng mapayapa, maayos at naaayon sa batas na pagtitipon. Ang inyong kapulisan ay laging nakaantabay at nakabantay upang panatilihin ang kaayusan ng kasalukuyang canvassing sa House of Representatives,” he added.
(The police will maintain maximum tolerance and will continue to respect the public’s right to express their opinion through peaceful and orderly protests. The police will secure and guard to ensure peace in the ongoing canvassing in the House of Representatives.)
The commission said it will look into the issue and will coordinate with the PNP regarding its initial findings and recommendations. — BM, GMA News