A supposed-to-be peaceful protest by members of a caravan of minority groups called Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan in front of the US Embassy in Manila turned tragically bloody when police officers employed unnecessary force to disperse the protesters.
The militant protesters who were members of indigenous communities were decrying the militarization by the United States of their ancestral lands.
Their protest was supposed to be a peaceful expression of their sentiments as members of the minority groups in the Philippines. They were merely exercising their constitutional freedom of expression.
However, authorities were sent to disperse their protest because they didn’t have a permit to rally.
Members of the Philippine National Police employed the use of tear gas to diffuse the protest, but instead of stabilizing the volatile situation, police authorities contributed to the clash.
A police vehicle drove through the crowd of protesters, resulting to the injury over 50 people.
The man behind the steering wheel was identified to be PO3 Franklin Kho.
Members of the police force have the mandate to serve and protect the citizens of the country. They are supposed to be our protectors, and they are charged with the maintenance of the peace and order.
In the Philippines, as a democratic and republican nation, the principle of civilian supremacy over the military and the armed forces in general, is inherent.
In case of protests and rallies, the Supreme Court of the Philippine has, time and again, stressed that police officers and authorities must exercise maximum tolerance in dealing with the militants.
After all, the sticks, stones and plastic bottles thrown by the protesters have nothing against the guns and ammunitions strapped to the belts of our policemen.
Maximum tolerance does not mean resorting to violence at the slightest provocation. Maximum tolerance does not mean repaying violence in kind. Maximum tolerance does not mean mindless retaliation.
Most of all, maximum tolerance does not mean ramming a police vehicle into the mass of protesters, deliberately causing harm to the very people you are charged to protect.