MANILA — Manila police on Wednesday defended the arrest and dispersal made against youth groups that held an anti-Balikatan protest outside the US embassy.
Two students were arrested for violating Public Assembly Act of 1985, vandalism, and Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code or resistance and disobedience to a person in authority. The demonstrators asserted they were violently dispersed — a claim denied by law enforcers.
According to Police Maj. Philipp Ines, spokesperson of Manila Police District, the youth groups did not have a permit.
"Sabi nga natin nasa maximum tolerance kami pero 'yung ginawa po nila na pagbabato ng mga pintura dito po sa US embassy hindi po ito katanggap-tanggap," he told ANC's "Rundown".
(We said we would practice maximum tolerance, but they threw paint at the US embassy. This is not acceptable.)
The protestors claimed Manila and Washington's joint military drills would worsen tensions between China and US and drag the Philippines into the conflict.
"For the longest time, hindi pinapansin kung paano tinatalikuran 'yung ganitong mga sentiments ng kabataan regarding national affairs," League of Filipino Students national chaiperson Ivan Sucgang also told "Rundown".
"Directly affected ang kabataan dito sa Balikatan exercises and even 'yung continuing presence ng US. Kung sa amin, very important 'yung paglulunsad pa rin ng mga militant forms of action," he added.
(For the longest time, the sentiments of the youth regarding national affairs were disregarded. The Balikatan exercises and even the continuing US presence directly affect the youth. For us, militant forms of action are very important.)
Launched on Tuesday, the Balikatan exercises or "shoulder to shoulder" in Filipino would run until April 28.
Nearly 18,000 troops are taking part in the military drill, which for the first time will include a live-fire drill in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely.
The exercises will enhance "tactics, techniques and procedures across a wide range of military operations," said Philippine military spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar.
The drills follow Monday's conclusion of a three-day Chinese military exercise that simulated targeted strikes and a blockade of self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.
— With reports from Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse