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What the PNP operations handbook says about handling rallies


Last week, a Philippine National Police dispersal of a rally in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato left three people dead and dozens injured. A PNP investigation into the matter is already underway, even as the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Commission on Human Rights, and the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights are set to probe the matter.

In 2013, the PNP released its revised police operational procedures in its handbook including a detailed section about how the police should handle rallies and demonstrations. The text of the section follows in full.

 

RULE 25. RALLIES AND DEMONSTRATIONS
25.1 Policies

a. The PNP adheres to the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Offi cials adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations which requires law enforcement officials to respect and protect human dignity, maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons, and limit the use of force to situations where it is strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

b. Public assemblies held in freedom parks or on private property do not need a permit for the activity. Public assembly with permit or one held in a freedom park or private property shall not be dispersed as long as it remains peaceful and no incidence of violence occurs.

c. The PNP shall provide police assistance only when requested by the leaders or organizers for maintenance of peace and order or to ensure the safety of those participating in the public assemblies held in freedom parks or on private property.

d. A public assembly held in a public place must have a permit from the mayor of the city or municipality exercising jurisdiction over the place where it will be held.

e. A public assembly held with or without a permit may be peacefully dispersed. A public assembly with a permit may be dispersed if the same is being held in violation of the terms and conditions imposed in the permit. In both cases, before conducting any dispersal operation, the PNP shall notify the concerned organizers and leaders of the public assembly.

f. Lightning demonstrations or rallies in areas where public assembly is prohibited shall be dispersed peacefully. However, should any of the participants refuse to disperse voluntarily or violate any law or ordinance during an unauthorized public assembly; they shall be taken into police custody and be charged accordingly.

g. Ground Commanders are responsible in determining whether there is a permit for the holding of the public assembly.

h. Close coordination with the mayor of the city or municipality, or his representative, where the public assembly is being held should always be maintained especially when a permit has not been issued but an application has been fi led prior to the holding of the public assembly.

i. Maximum tolerance shall be exercised in the conduct of dispersal operations. Violators of the law shall be apprehended and brought to the nearest Police Station for proper disposition

25.2 Limitations on the Role of the PNP

The PNP shall not interfere with the holding of a public assembly. However, to ensure public safety and to maintain peace and order during the assembly, the police contingent under the command of a PCO preferably with the rank of Police Senior Inspector may be detailed and stationed in a place at least one hundred (100) meters away from the area of activity.

25.3 Guidelines for Civil Disturbance Management (CDM) Contingent During Rallies/Demonstrations

a. CDM contingent shall be in prescribed uniform without firearm.

b. Tear gas, smoke grenades, water cannons, or any similar anti-riot device shall be used only when the public assembly is attended by actual violence or serious threats of violence, or deliberate destruction of property.

25.4 Dispersal of Public Assembly with Permit

All public assembly with a permit shall not be dispersed. However, when an assembly becomes violent, the police may disperse such public assembly in the following manner:

a. At the first sign of impending violence, the Ground Commander of the PNP contingent shall call the attention of the leaders of the public assembly and ask the latter to prevent any possible disturbance;

b. If actual violence reaches a point where rocks or other harmful objects from the participants are thrown at the police offi cers or at the non-participants, or at any property, causing damage to it, the Ground Commander of the PNP contingent shall audibly warn the participants that if the disturbance persists, the public assembly will be dispersed;

c. If the violence or disturbance does not stop, the Ground Commander of the PNP contingent shall audibly issue a warning to the participants of the public assembly, and after allowing a reasonable period of time to lapse, he shall immediately order it to disperse; and

d. No arrest of any leader, organizer or participant shall be made unless he violates during the assembly a law, statute, or ordinance.

25.5 Dispersal of Public Assembly Without Permit

When the public assembly is held without a permit where a permit is required, the said public assembly may be peacefully dispersed. However, when the leaders or organizers of public assembly can show an application for permit duly filed at the Office of the Mayor which has jurisdiction over the place where the rally will be held, atleast fi ve (5) days prior to the intended activity and the Mayor did not act on the same, the grant of the permit being then presumed under the law, and it will be the burden  of the authorities to show that there has been a denial of the application, in which case, the rally may be peacefully dispersed following the procedure of maximum tolerance prescribed by law.

25.6 Prohibited Acts

It shall be prohibited for a police offi cer to commit the following acts during peaceful assembly:

a. Obstructing, impeding, disrupting or otherwise denying the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly;

b. The unnecessary fi ring of fi rearms to disperse the public assembly;

c. Acts in violation of Rule 25.5 hereof;

d. Acts described hereunder if committed within one hundred (100) meters from the area of activity of the public assembly;

(1) The carrying of a deadly or offensive weapon or device such as fi rearm, pillbox, bomb, and the like;

(2) The carrying of a bladed weapon;

(3) The malicious burning of any object in the streets or thoroughfares;

(4) The carrying of fi rearms by CDM contingents;

(5) The interfering with or intentionally disturbing the holding of a public assembly by the use of a motor vehicle, its horns and loud sound systems;

(6) The drinking of liquor or alcoholic beverages; and

(7) Gambling of any kind.

25.7 Police Responses During Public Assembly

The following are the police responses during the planning stage, initial and peaceful stage, confrontational stage, violent stage and post operation stage:

a. During Planning Stage

(1) Initiate dialogue with the leaders/organizers to ensure the peaceful holding of a public assembly, including among others, the detail of police escorts.

(2) Prepare appropriate security and CDM contingency plans.

b. During Initial and Peaceful Stage

(1) With Permit or Held in Freedom Parks/ Private Properties

(a) The PNP shall not interfere with the holding of a public assembly.  However, to adequately ensure public safety, a CDM contingent, under  the control and supervision of a PCO shall be stationed at least one  hundred (100) meters away from the area where the public assembly is  being held.

(b) Monitor the activities at the public assembly area and respond to  any request for police assistance.

(2) Without Permit or Permit has been revoked

(a) As soon as it becomes apparent that an assembly is being held in a  public place, the Ground Commander shall immediately conduct an  inquiry whether the assembly is covered with a permit or not. If a  permit could not be shown, verifi cation should immediately be done  with the Offi ce of the Mayor having jurisdiction over the place where  the public assembly is being held. Should the Offi ce of the Mayor  confirm that a permit has not been issued, the leaders/organizers shall  be informed of the fact that they are violating the law and will be asked  to disperse peacefully.

(b) The PNP shall exhaust all peaceful remedies to persuade the  demonstrators to disperse. This may include the involvement of Local  Chief Executives / community leaders when available to intervene in  the situation so that dispersal operations could be avoided.

(c) Should negotiation fail and the demonstrators refuse to disperse  voluntarily and peacefully, thereby causing public inconvenience, CDM  contingents may commence dispersal operations.

c. During Breach of Peace/Confrontational Stage (With or without permit)

No public assembly with a permit shall be dispersed. However, when a public assembly becomes violent, the CDM contingents may disperse such public assembly in the following manner:

(1) At the first sign of impending violence, the Ground Commander shall call the attention of the leaders/organizers of the public assembly and ask the latter  to prevent any possible disturbance. CDM contingents shall hold the line to prevent demonstrators from proceeding to other areas where the holding of a public assembly is prohibited.

(2) If actual violence reaches a point where rocks or other harmful objects from the participants are thrown at the CDM contingents or the nonparticipants, or at any property causing damage to it, the Ground Commander shall audibly warn the participants that if the disturbance persists, the public assembly will be dispersed;

(3) If the violence or disturbance does not stop, the Ground Commander shall audibly issue a warning to the participants of the public assembly, and after allowing a reasonable period of time to lapse, shall immediately order it to disperse. With the use of CDM formations, the rank of demonstrators shall be disbanded, contained, and isolated from each other, and should be prevented from regrouping.

(4) Water cannons and riot sticks maybe used to repel aggression and to disperse demonstrators and reserve CDM contingents may be employed when situation requires.

(5) No arrest of any leader, organizer or participant shall be made unless he violates a law, statute, or ordinance during the assembly.

d. During Violent Stage

(1) Non-lethal weapons and equipment may be used to suppress violence, to protect lives and prevent further damage to properties.

(2) PNP security elements shall be tactically deployed to provide immediate assistance to the CDM contingents.

e. Post-Operation Stage:

(1) CDM contingents shall be withdrawn after the area has been cleared of possible danger to public safety.

(2) Suffi cient police force shall be maintained to ensure peace and order in the area.

25.8 Guidelines in the Use of Non-Lethal Weapons

a. Shield and Truncheon

During the confrontational stage, truncheon or baton may be utilized only to push back demonstrators and not as an instrument to strike individuals. However, when demonstrators become aggressive, truncheon shall be the principal non-lethal weapon for dispersal. In such situation, CDM contingents shall nonetheless, use the same with caution and due diligence to avoid unnecessary injury.

b. Water Cannons

Water cannons may be utilized when demonstrators become unruly and aggressive forcing troops to fall back to their secondary positions.

c. Tear Gas

Tear gas and pepper spray may be utilized to break up formations or groupings of demonstrations who continue to be aggressive and who refuse to disperse despite earlier efforts.

25.9 Guidelines in dealing with Assemblies, Rallies, Demonstrations and Marches

a. To ensure the protection, safety and welfare of the public and demonstrators as well, the following must be observed:

(1) Confined Assemblies in Private Property (Churches, Schools, etc.)

(a) Initiate the conduct of dialogue with the leaders/organizers.

(b) Secure and maintain order within the perimeter.

(2) Confined Assemblies in Freedom Parks

(a) Initiate the conduct of dialogue with the leaders/organizers.

(b) Request for the permit from the leaders/organizers if the local ordinance of the area requires one.

(c) Secure and contain the area within the limits of the permit to ensure the orderly and peaceful conduct of the assembly.

(3) Mobile Assemblies in a Private Area

(a) Initiate the conduct of dialogue with the leaders/organizers.

(b) Secure and maintain order within the perimeter.

(4) Marches and Motorcades along Public Thoroughfares

(a) Initiate the conduct of dialogue with the leaders/organizers.

(b) Request for the permit from the leaders/organizers if the local ordinance of the area requires one.

(c) Ensure the orderly and peaceful conduct of the marches and motorcades to ensure public safety and to prevent compromise of public convenience.

b. There shall always be a designated Ground Commander at the rally site;

c. Apply slow dispersal technique whenever it is applicable. Take the ground inch by inch. Ground Commander shall refrain from using water cannon and tear gas as much as possible; and

d. If necessary, provide a medical team to extend assistance;

e. All CDM operations shall be properly documented with video and photo coverage;

f. Respect for human rights and equal treatment and protection for everybody shall be strictly observed; and

g. PNP personnel shall observe maximum tolerance.

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