Press Release
October 20, 2016

Statement of Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin M. Drilon on the October 19, 2016 violent incident at the US Embassy

I condemn the brutal actions committed by some members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) that badly hurt several individuals during the protest rally at the US Embassy in Manila yesterday.

Such use of deadly force by the PNP is alarming and warrants a full-blown investigation by the PNP and the Commission on Human Rights.

Restraints upon freedom of speech and assembly, a cornerstone of our democratic processes, must be kept at a minimum. This is why democratic societies would rather err in favor of maximum tolerance unless there is a clear threat to society or the safety of others.

From what I have seen, this was not followed. The incident should not have happened had the PNP faithfully followed its rules of engagement and observed the policy of maximum tolerance as prescribed by law.

The Public Assembly Act of 1985 is clear: "maximum tolerance" means the highest degree of restraint that the military, police and other peace-keeping authorities shall observe during a public assembly or in the dispersal of the same.

The PNP's rules of engagement is also clear that the police may use only "reasonable force" to maintain peace and order and protect everybody, even during crowd dispersals.

How did we go from "reasonable force" to repeatedly running people over with a transport vehicle?

These types of actions by the police leads to mistrust of the very institution which our people rely upon for protection. Police authority when unbridled and unchecked leads to impunity.

The PNP must show that law enforcers are not above the law. More importantly, the police must show that it can police its own ranks, and prove that it remains and continues to be the police institution that we know and trust to protect and serve us all.

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