21 October 2005
Amnesty International Pilipinas unconditionally and unreservedly condemns the excessive use of force of the anti-riot police against peaceful demonstrators during the march to Mendiola on the night of October 14. The use of violence by the police to disperse demonstrators is unacceptable and could have been avoided. It only serves to provoke and increase tension in an already volatile situation. By using this level of force to break up what had been a largely peaceful demonstration, the authorities violated the right of the protesters not only as citizens but moreover, as human beings trying to express their grievances in a way that is fit under the law. The Philippine National Police (PNP) invokes the “No Permit, No Rally” policy as the reason for the dispersal. This, however, should not be used as a pretext to crack down on peaceful dissent and the right to freedom of expression and association.
Amnesty International is concerned with how the PNP is defending the violent dispersal last Friday, standing on the grounds of upholding public order, security of motorists and maintaining traffic-free streets, dismissing public demonstrations as mere public nuisance. The police are expected to show maximum tolerance, firing water cannons with pressure enough to knock a person down doesn’t certainly illustrate this. The risk of use of excessive force have increased due to poor training and lack of accountability of the anti-riot police on the handling of demonstrators.
The whole world has seen the horror of these events, not only in the Philippines during Martial law but also everywhere in the world, in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Tibet, Kenya and the United States to cite a few. The political instability experienced by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration is enough basis for her to try to repress opposition protests in ways that can only serve her own purpose. We are urging President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to ensure the protection of human rights and freedom to peaceful assembly and expression, as well as to guarantee that no one is subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during dispersal. The Calibrated Pre-emptive Response (CPR), which the president has duly authorized, does not uphold the rights of the people, instead it aggravates the level of the use of excessive force against them.