MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) said it is studying the option of filing a complaint against organizers of the protests during the State of the Nation Address on Monday.
Riot police and demonstrators clashed several times during the rally in front of the Ever Gotesco Mall, leaving some 95 protesters, 19 policemen, and 4 media men injured.
QCPD District Director Mario Dela Vega said among the charges they are looking at are physical injuries, damage to property, and malicious mischief.
Dela Vega insists it was the group led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) who instigated the violence after they attempted to go around the police barricade to march toward Batasang Pambansa.
"Hindi justified ‘yung actions nila. Democracy tayo, they can exercise their freedom of expression without resorting to violence," said Dela Vega.
Dela Vega believes the use of force against the protesters was justified to quell the alleged aggression shown by the group.
"Malamig ang ulo ng pulis the whole time. In fact, kahit sumugod na sila, hindi ko pinagamit ‘yung water cannons namin," he said.
Human Rights group Karapatan, however, insists that protesters were within their right to hold their rally closer to Congress.
They explained that Bayan had applied for a permit to rally before the Office of the Mayor, but the latter failed to act on their request. Under Batasang Pambansa 880, this means that the request is deemed approved.
"Ang ginawa ng PNP ay pagharang sa isang peaceful march. Kung may gumawa man ng iligal, ‘yun ‘yung mga pulis. May we remind the PNP that under the law, it is the local government that grants or denies the permit to rally. In this case, the Mayor of Quezon City defaulted," said Christina Palabay, spokesperson of Karapatan.
Palabay also noted how ironic it was that the violent dispersal occurred while President Benigno Aquino was delivering his SONA.
Meantime, the Commission on Human Rights said it is still investigating the incident.