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BEIJING, China – President Rodrigo Duterte is not blaming anyone for the violent dispersal of protesters in front of the United States Embassy just yet.
He will first “investigate” the matter before pointing fingers, he said during a press conference on Wednesday, October 19, in the Chinese capital.
“I will have to investigate. I’ll have to make calls tonight. But just to be very sure that I do not commit or I do not stray along other side issues,” he told reporters after he was informed of the incident.
“I am not going into the blame-game as a start,” he said.
A police van overran protesters who staged a rally in front of the US embassy in Manila on Wednesday, October 19. At least 50 were hurt during the violent dispersal, ten of whom were rushed to the hospital.
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. The Communist Party of the Philippines immediately condemned the incident and held the police and the military accountable. The CPP’s political arm, the National Democratic Front, is in peace talks with the Duterte administration.
The Philippine National Police has ordered a probe into the incident, although the police chief of the National Capital Region Office insisted the cops were not at fault. (IN PHOTOS: Police van runs over protesters; PNP orders probe)
Duterte has so far only seen footage of the dispersal.
But he repeated his instruction to police to practice “maximum tolerance” when it comes to dealing with protesters.
“I have given my orders for a maximum tolerance policy sa pulis (to the police)…I said early on: if you want to demonstrate, tell me. I’ll give you a permit for one week, just do not invade the Constitutional orders of the right also to use the streets and be safe,” he said.
Duterte plans to make an official announcement on the incident upon his arrival in Manila on Friday, October 21.
“By that time I would have completed my assessment, personal, which will be provided by the police and the military. And, of course…the DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government],” said Duterte. – Rappler.com