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Police vehicle plows through protesters near US Embassy

Fifty protesters were reportedly injured after Manila policemen dispersed an anti-US rally near the embassy on Wednesday morning.

A video posted by the Associated Press showed a police utility vehicle accelerating both forward and in reverse, hitting several protesters in the process. At least one protester was trapped beneath the vehicle after being run over.



Sandugo, an alliance of Moro and indigenous peoples, and several other people's organizations were reportedly about to end the program when the police moved in.

In a statement, Sandugo disputed reports from the police that the violence started from the ranks of the protesters.

Amirah Lidasan, secretary-general of Moro-Christian Peoples' Alliance, said that she was witness to how Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedroso of the Manila Police District (MPD) ordered his men to ram their patrol vehicle against the protesters.

"We were in the front line of the rally. The protest was about to end when Col. Pedroso ordered his men to ram their vehicle against us," Lidasan said.

She said it was the police who attacked the protesters.

"First they rammed the police vehicle against the people. Then they released tear gas and hit us with truncheons. That's as clear as day," Lidasan added.

"We were about to leave when the violence transpired. It was not called for. It's unjustifiable."

Lidasan said police nabbed 29 protesters and brought them to the MPD headquarters.

The Kabataan Partylist said among the injured was its congresswoman, Representative Sarah Elago, Sandugo lead convenor Piya Macliing Malayao, Quenilyn Gromeo of Anakbayan-PUP, and a 61-year old Lumad woman.

"We express our utmost condemnation of what we can consider as a brutal police attack against the people," Kabataan said.

"The national minorities, under the banner of Sandugo, a newly-established alliance of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for self-determination, were rallying at the US Embassy to underline their plight caused by US domination in the military, political, and economic affairs of our country," it added.

The human rights group Karapatan was quick to condemn the violent dispersal.

"Scores were reportedly injured as police cars ran over protesters and fired teargas at them. We are still verifying reports of arrests," Karapatan said in a statement.

The group said the dispersal led by Pedroso was an act that showed "the mendicancy of our country's state security forces to the still prevalent interests of the US government in the land."

"The protest action of the national minorities called for the end to US military intervention and plunder in the Philippines," Karapatan said.

"The police should serve and protect the Filipino people's interests, and should not trample on the rights of citizens to freely express their opinions and exercise their right to freedom of assembly over the interests of the US embassy officials who may just be incensed by the calls inscribed by the national minorities on the US embassy seal - because the utter truth of the matter is, they should really get the hell out of our country for all the crimes they perpetrated vs the Filipino people," it added.  —NB/JST, GMA News