Police driver in embassy rally sacked, faces raps

Non Alquitran - The Philippine Star
Police driver in embassy rally sacked, faces raps
Manila Police District (MPD) chief Senior Supt. Joel Coronel said Police Officer 3 Franklin Kho of the District Police Security Battalion (DPSB) could face criminal charges for serious physical injuries after he drove the van that rammed and injured protesters.

MANILA, Philippines - The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) relieved yesterday nine police officers involved in the violent dispersal of militant activists in front of the US embassy in Manila last Wednesday, including the policeman who rammed protesters with a van.

Manila Police District (MPD) chief Senior Supt. Joel Coronel said Police Officer 3 Franklin Kho of the District Police Security Battalion (DPSB) could face criminal charges for serious physical injuries after he drove the van that rammed and injured protesters.

Coronel said the policeman could also be held liable for gross misconduct, particularly violation of existing police operation procedures.

NCRPO director Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde said the relieved police officials included Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, MPD deputy district director for operations, whom witnesses heard to be directing the dispersal of the rallyists.

Also relieved were Supt. Albert Barot, Station 5 commander; Chief Insp. Dionelle Brannon, commander of the Pedro Gil police precinct; Chief Insp. Elmer Oseo, deputy commander of Station 5; Chief Insp. Joebie Astucia, operations chief of Station 5; Chief Insp. Roberto Marinda, Company commander the augmentation force; Chief Insp. Roberto Mangune, commander of the US embassy team; and Senior Insp. Edgardo Orongan, chief operations officer of the DPSB.

Albayalde directed Pedrozo and the eight other policemen to report to the NCRPO Regional Police Holding Administrative Unit (RPHAU) while the investigation on the incident is ongoing.

The Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) was tasked to investigate the incident.

A police van driven by Kho rammed into protesters, leaving several bloodied. At least 40 people including over 20 police officers were hurt after policemen clashed with the demonstrators.

“Pedrozo and his fellow police officials would be temporarily assigned at the RPHAU for the easy issuance of summons pertaining to the investigation being conducted by the CIDG,” said Albayalde.

He said the relief of the nine police officials was made to pave the way for an impartial investigation of the incident.

Those relieved would be temporarily replaced by their respective deputies, he added.

According to Albayalde, there is no evidence as yet to warrant the relief of Coronel on the principle of command responsibility.

Director Benjamin Magalong, PNP deputy chief for operations, admitted policemen committed some lapses in the police operational procedures (POP), which resulted in the injuries of both policemen and rallyists.

Magalong said the PNP will investigate the entire scrum, not only the ramming incident.

Coronel pointed out that the protesters also committed several violations that could have contributed to the chaos.

He said the protesters had no permit to rally, which is illegal.

Coronel said the police had enforced maximum tolerance but there were unprovoked actions by the militants, who stormed the gates and threw paint and other debris as well as spray painted the perimeter walls of the embassy which, under the Vienna convention, the government is obliged to protect.

Supt. Surki Sereñas, spokesman for Region 10 police, condemned the policemen involved in the violent dispersal of protesters.

“We are saddened at the thought that a policeman figured in an unfortunate incident involving rallyists being rammed and injured,” said Sereñas in a statement.

Sereñas said they empathize with the victims as he reiterated that the police have no policy to hurt people.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II is studying if the National Bureau of Investigation should join the probe.

He said a parallel investigation of the NBI with the police probe might be necessary to dispel fears of a whitewash.

House probe

Lawmakers yesterday called for a House inquiry on the violent police dispersal of protesters at the US embassy.

The seven members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives that included party-list Reps. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas of women’s group Gabriela, Antonio Tinio and France Castro of Act Teachers, Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis and Sarah Elago of Kabataan filed House resolution 487 calling for an impartial probe of the clash of the policemen with anti-US activists.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III called on the leadership of the PNP to investigate the violent incident and to “take action against those responsible, uniformed or otherwise.”

In calling for the probe by the PNP, Pimentel appealed to the public not to rush to judgment based on the footage of the incident alone, which has sparked widespread condemnation.

Video footage showed a police vehicle backing into protesters.

Pimentel clarified that his call does not mean he is presuming guilt on any party.

“The video on its own is very disturbing, but is not the whole picture. We must not pass judgment until we know the whole story,” he said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon said the deadly force used by the police is alarming and warrants a full-blown investigation by the PNP and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, came to the defense of the policeman who drove the wayward van and the PNP as an institution.

“That was a judgment call made by one policeman behind the wheel of a police van who might have felt threatened by the possibility of being lynched by the protesters, and who impulsively drove the van wherever he could to avoid the dire consequences of his inaction,” Lacson said.

“I think it’s unfair to the Philippine National Police as an institution to be accused of police brutality. It was a personal judgment call of the driver of the van. Maximum tolerance or not, he acted based on his appreciation of the situation prevailing at the time he made that move,” he added.

Police lobbed tear gas and arrested at least 20 protesters.

Sen. Richard Gordon said both sides should be taken to task for the incident, but more so the policemen who ran over and hit the protesters.

The protesters, mostly members of indigenous peoples’ alliance Sandugo, Bayan and Alliance of Health Workers, trooped to the US embassy at around 10 a.m. and held a program in front of its main gate to dramatize the plight of indigenous communities.

Some activists splashed red paint on the gate of the embassy and on the police officers securing the gate.

Others wrote graffiti on the white perimeter fence of the embassy.

Rallyists were supposed to end their program around noon by burning a US flag and the indigenous groups performing a war dance, when the violent dispersal occurred.

The left-leaning lawmakers stated in their resolution that they want an immediate investigation in aid of legislation of the US embassy dispersal by the House committee on human rights chaired by Zambales Rep. Cheryl Montalla-Deloso.

With Marvin Sy, Delon Porcalla, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Marvin Sy, Janvic Mateo, Edu Punay, Gerry Lee Gorit

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with