SWAT sent to Erap-Isko event in Manila

Jerald Uy
Authorities say it's for police visibility, but the Manila opposition thinks it's meant to intimidate their supporters

MANILA OPPOSITION. (From left) Mayoral candidate Joseph Estrada, re-electionist Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, and Councilor Yul Servo. Photo by Jerald Uy

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila Police, claiming it had to ensure “police visibility,” sent around 10 operatives, including sharpshooters, to a community event organized by the local political opposition on Wednesday night, February 27, in Binondo, Manila.

To re-electionist Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, however, it is an act of “intimidation” by the police, meant to send a “chilling effect” to his and former President Joseph Estrada’s supporters.

Estrada is running for mayor of Manila against incumbent Alfredo. The city police is under the supervision of the mayor.

Kayo mismo naka-witness kung gaano ang pressure, ang pamemerwisyo (You witnessed how much they are pressuring and intimidating us). It has a chilling effect,” said Moreno.

He added: “Isipin mo, ordinaryong mamamayan ang mga iyan, makakakita ng isang batalyon ng pulis, anong iisipin mo? (Just imagine, these are ordinary people, and then they’d see a batallion of cops. What else would you think ?)”

Estrada and Moreno were at a community engagement activity at M. De Santos Street in Barangay 276 when the policemen came with Manila Police District (MPD) Station 11 commander, Superintendent Alex Navarette.

Police visibility?

NOTHING UNUSUAL? Cops turn up at the opposition's barangay event in Binondo, Manila on February 27. Photo by Jerald Uy

Navarette refused to disclose the exact number of cops he brought along, but told Rappler that they included 4 members of the MPD Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit. He said it was for “police visibility” purposes.

MPD legal officer Maj. Dennis Wagas said the number of operatives deployed in the venue was “tama lang (enough) ” for crowd control. He denied that Lim had anything to do with their presence in the event of local United Nationalist Alliance candidates.

Hindi kasi na-control ang crowd noong bingo incident,” Wagas said, referring to the arrest of the vice mayor and 5 councilors for sponsoring a bingo game last February 16. 

The cops stood on one side of the street the whole time, and left after Estrada and Moreno left the barangay.

Asked if the police would always be on the lookout for supposed illegal activities of the opposition party from hereon, Wagas said, “Tingin ko naman hindi gagawa ng illegal ang mga kandidato (I don’t think the [UNA local] candidates will commit illegal acts.”

Moreno downplayed the police’s defense. “Kung police visibility lang (If they’re here for police visibility), one or two will do but with a group or a platoon of policemen—that is another story,” he said. “Kanya-kanyang istorya ‘yan lagi.” – Rappler.com 

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