Pinoy recalls UK riot ordeal
- James Mananghaya () - August 13, 2011 - 12:00am

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom – The only Filipino who was injured in the recent riots and looting incidents in major cities here recalled his ordeal Friday, saying he wanted to survive for his family.

This came as the United Kingdom’s top diplomat in the Philippines expressed shock and regret on the injury and damage to property suffered by three Filipinos that were affected by the disturbances in various areas of Britain.

The caregiver, who requested that his identity be withheld because he has not informed his family about the incident, said he was on his way home from work last Monday when he chanced upon a group of young men who were involved in the riots at the city center, who mugged him and robbed him of his personal belongings.

“There were about 20 to 25 young men who beat me up. I tried to avoid them but when we made eye contact, I said to myself, this is not going to be good,” he said.

He said he was cornered, punched and kicked repeatedly in the face and all over his body.

“I tried to stay focused and conscious. I pretended to be beaten up and too weak but in reality, I was trying to monitor their every movement. Because if I am knocked out, I might not remember anything, or worse, I could end up dead,” he said.

“I was praying really hard, I asked God to protect me and make me strong for my family. I told myself this is not about me anymore but I must survive for my family,” he said in an interview with The STAR at his home in this city.

After he was beaten, the rioters took his backpack, expensive phone and watch.

When his attackers left him, he went to a nearby restaurant to ask for help. Luckily, there were two women who offered to take him to the nearest hospital. They were also the ones who drove him home.

“I call them my angels. They did not know me, but they helped me and because of that I am very grateful to them,” he said.

The Filipino victim, who suffered a black eye, swollen muscles and a graze on his cheek bone, said officials from the Philippine embassy in London, together with representatives of Filipino community organizations in the city, immediately went to Birmingham to check on his condition.

“I am also thankful to our authorities because they showed me their concern for my welfare,” he said.

“I am also fighting now for justice after what happened to me, but I feel no bitterness against my attackers. That day was not my lucky day, but still, I am lucky to be alive,” the 30-year-old healthcare worker from Manila said.

Major parts of Britain were gripped by violence and fear due to several days of rioting and looting perpetrated mostly by teenagers, which apparently stemmed from the killing of a 29-year-old man in London.

The violence has started to subside and things are starting to return to normal after the government threatened rioters with more “robust police action.”

The atmosphere, however, remains tense as fear of renewed rioting remains.

Hundreds of people have now been arrested, charged before the courts and were meted jail sentences for the riots and looting. 


Helping hand

Meantime, British Ambassador Stephen Lillie yesterday said the UK government is appalled by the scenes that have unfolded in their communities.

“I am especially shocked that innocent Filipino residents were caught up in it,” Lillie said in a statement.

Lillie said the UK government has outlined a package of measures that will help communities get back on their feet.

Their government will meet the immediate costs of emergency accommodation for families made homeless by these disturbances, according to Lillie.

“And any individual, homeowner or business that has suffered damage to their buildings or property as a result of the rioting can seek compensation under the Riot Damages Act,” he said.

The British embassy is closely coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is in touch with the Philippine embassy in London to monitor the safety of Filipinos in the affected areas, and to help follow up with the police.

“This morning I spoke personally to the DFA to convey our shock at what had happened to the three Filipinos, our sympathy, and the British government’s concern for them. I underlined the Prime Minister’s personal concern for the victims of the violence, and said we fully shared the DFA’s hope that the perpetrators of these crimes would be brought to justice. I asked that our concern be conveyed to the President,” Lillie added.

“We completely condemn the acts of criminality witnessed during the past week. We will do whatever it takes to restore law and order and to rebuild our communities. Our Prime Minister has made it clear that we are leaving no stone unturned to achieve this,” he said.

The ambassador said the UK police increased the number of police deployed on the streets of  London from 6,000 to almost 16,000 officers. – With Pia Lee-Brago

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