MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Protesters and police clashed in front of the US Embassy in Manila on Wednesday, October 19, as cops tried to disperse a rally of indigenous peoples protesting alleged military and US presence in their ancestral lands.
Some of the protesters were injured after cops drove a police vehicle through the crowd.
Around 30 activists were also arrested in the violent dispersal, organizers said.
The protesters, led by SANDUGO, a newly-formed alliance of minority groups, were about to wrap up their rally when policemen started dispersing them, the organizers said.
Police set off tear gas, and drove a police vehicle through the protesters’ ranks. The militants, meanwhile, hurled bottles, paint bombs, and rocks towards the police.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the violent dispersal of the protest here at US Embassy which was led by our fellow Moro and Indigenous Peoples,” a statement from Jerome Aba, national spokesperson of Suara Bangsamoro, said. “This protest serves to highlight the imperialist plunder, abuses, and continued domination of the United States in the country.”
“Today, we witnessed how even our local security forces are keen on employing violent tactics to quell the dissent of the marginalized and the oppressed,” the statement added.
The groups that protested are part of the “Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan,” a caravan of minority groups from across the country.
In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said protesters were also violently dispersed in front of Camp Aguinaldo, the general headquarters of the military, on Tuesday, October 18.
“The CPP holds the leadership of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and officials of the Duterte government responsible for the violent affront against the people’s democratic rights to demonstrate and seek redress [of grievances],” the CPP said. – Rappler.com