A car is dangerous in the wrong hands.
The Embassy of the United States was the site of a violent showdown between protesters and riot police during an anti-U.S. rally along Roxas Boulevard Wednesday afternoon.
A video released online, and which is now being carried by media outfits from all over the world, shows a police van plowing repeatedly into surrounding protesters, running at least one person to the ground. Viewers are advised to heed the graphic content warning of the video.
The officer driving the vehicle was reportedly acting in self defense. Manila Police Chief Superintendent Joel Napoleon Coronel told reporters that two protesters were injured by the van, but defended the driver, saying “was just trying to extricate the police van out of the area because the rowdy protesters were toppling or trying to turn over the van.”
Authorities also said the protesters did not have the proper permit to rally outside the embassy. They were tolerated at first, but were met with resistance after coming too close to the facility.
According to Activist leader Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, however, the commander of the Manila police district, one Col. Marcelino Pedroso, had ordered the demonstration be dispersed. He also said that 10 people had been injured and 29 arrested.
The Police officer driving the vehicle meanwhile, was identified as PO3 Franklin Kho. In a separate statement, other activist groups stated that they will “remain in holding Col. Pedroso, PO3 Kho and all those responsible for the violent dispersal accountable and should be meted out with administrative and criminal charges; as the dispersal clearly came from the policemen’s side.”
Protest leaders called on President Rodrigo Duterte punish those responsible for the incident, which happened during President Duterte’s state visit to the People’s Republic of China. The president is seeking to ease relations strained over territorial conflicts in the South China Sea during the former administration, which favored a foreign policy honoring defense treaties with the United States.