House panel recommends criminal charges vs cops in US embassy dispersal

Mara Cepeda
House panel recommends criminal charges vs cops in US embassy dispersal
The House committee on human rights also recommends that all cops be required to undergo human rights education and training

MANILA, Philippines – The House committee on human rights recommended filing criminal charges against 5 Manila Police District (MPD) cops involved in the violent dispersal of protesters outside the US Embassy two years ago.

The House panel members unanimously approved on Tuesday, October 9, their committee report on the findings of their investigation after now-relieved Police Officer (PO) 3 Franklin Kho drove a police vehicle back and forth through a crowd of protesters outside the embassy in October 2016. (READ: PNP: Criminal charges vs Kho, protesters in US embassy dispersal)

Lawmakers recommended the filing of criminal charges against the following:

  • Kho for “nearly killing” several protesters when he rammed the car through the crowd in front of the US Embassy
  • Now-relieved Senior Superintendent Marcelino Pedrozo, MPD deputy director for operations and over-all superivisor
  • Police Officer 1 Mark John Millares, Police Officer 1 Anthony Amores, and Police Officer 1 Hermit  Caligagan, whom the MPD intelligence division identified as involved in the mauling of jeepney driver Raymark Sumalbag 

Pedrozo was not in the original list of the committee report, but ACT Teachers Representative France Castro moved to include him.

“I hold him responsible and accountable for his orders to the police,” Castro said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The MPD cops have been criticized for using undue force in dispersing the protesters, most of whom were indigenous people rallying against US presence in the Philippines.

The protest was organized by Sandugo, a newly-formed alliance of minority groups. The groups that participated 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 House panel also recommended requiring all cops to undergo human rights education and training.  

Lawmakers also want a review of the Philippine National Police Manual of Operational Procedures for possible amendments that would lead to reinforcing human rights education of cops and a more efficient and effective coordination with on-site first aid responders. 

In 2016, several protesters already filed criminal cases against Kho, Pedrozo, then-National Capital Region Police Office chief Oscar Albayalde, and 7 other police officers for multiple attempted murder, serious physical injuries and unlawful arrest in relation to the incident. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.