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Swift, fair probe on violent rally dispersal ordered

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael D. Sueno has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to pursue a swift and unbiased investigation on violent dispersal of protesters in front of the United States embassy in Manila on October 19.

In a statement, Sueno has condemned to the highest degree any possible violation of public safety as he urged the PNP to observe thoroughness and transparency in conducting the probe.

Some disturbing video footages being circulated online show the protest action turned violent when the police tried to disperse the group of protesters who were trying to get closer to the embassy gate.

In the said video, a PNP vehicle was seen running over some of the rallyists when the driver tried to maneuver away from an angry mob armed with sticks and batons.

The driver, Police Officer 3 Franklin Kho, said he was trying to evade the attackers before they could cause more damage to the police vehicle.

“In the event that maximum tolerance was not observed and that there was endangerment of human life, the police are to be held fully accountable,” Sueno said.

The DILG chief echoed the sentiment of PNP chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, who instructed yesteday National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde to place all officers involved in that particular police operation under administrative relief to ensure utmost impartiality.

Nine Manila police personnel, including Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, the ground commander at the rally, were placed under restrictive custody at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Sueno added that a special investigation task group has been formed under the office of Senior Superintendent Joel Napoleon M. Coronel, Manila Police District (MPD) director, to probe the incident.

Parallel investigations are also being conducted by the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Internal Affairs Service (IAS). (CHITO A. CHAVEZ)