At least 10 people were rushed to the hospital after a police van in the Philippines rammed into a crowd of protesters at an anti-U.S. rally outside the American embassy in Manila on Wednesday.
The disturbing footage showed rallyists being run over by the police van, while other protesters threw objects at the officer’s vehicle. Some of the demonstrators, who consisted mainly of students, workers and tribes people, were heard screaming as the vehicle accelerated toward the crowd. Others ran toward the van to prevent it from plowing through more people, but the van just continued moving forward.
The police initially used tear gas to disperse the protesters who hurled red paint at the officers, ABC reported. Some demonstrators also sprayed red paint over the U.S. government seal at the start of the rally.
The officers then used a firetruck to douse the protesters with water. The agitated mob, however, grabbed hold of the fire hose and retaliated by throwing paint and rocks.
The protesters were reportedly calling for an end to the presence of U.S. troops in the country while expressing their support to the independent foreign policy being initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Protest leader and the secretary-general of leftist group, Bayan Renato Reyes, told reporters that the police also arrested 29 protesters at the rally. He also commented that the violence toward the protesters was uncalled for.
“There was absolutely no justification [for the police violence],” Reyes was quoted as saying.
“Even as the President avowed an independent foreign policy, Philippine police forces still act as running dogs of the US.”
The Philippine leader is currently on a state visit to China.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Oscar Albayalde told INQUIRER.net via SMS that the police did not deliberately run over the rallyists, stating that the officers were just defending themselves from protesters who have turned violent.
“They weren’t run over. The rallyists were trying to flip over the patrol car,” Albayalde was quoted as saying. “In the process, the driver extricated the patrol car and inadvertently hit some unruly protesters who sustained minor injuries,” he added.
He then pointed out that from the police side, around 32 civil disturbance management cops got injured in the violent altercation.