Image from Yahoo News
On October 19th 2016 the Philippine National Police (PNP) drove a police truck over people protesting US imperialism in front of the US Embassy. They ran over the protestors not once, not twice, but three times. The scene is captured in this brutal video:
WARNING: Violent Images
The protest in which this police violence took place was one of the many events that occurred during Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya—a 2-week gathering of National Minorities consisting of Moro and Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines. The gathering is meant to help form stronger alliances and shed light on indigenous people´s struggle against the capitalist plunder of their ancestral domains. For example, the Dulangan Manobo tribe in Sultan Kudarat have been facing military harassment enforced by the land grabber Victor Consunji. Consunji has been trying to displace the tribe to deforrest their land for timber. Members of the tribe have continuously found leaders of their tribe murdered in ditches and their homes were occupied by corporate militias last year.
At this protest, national minorities and other protectors of Philippine sovereignty protested outside of the US Embassy to demand the removal of US military presence in the Philippines. Through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) unlimited numbers of US military troops can stay on Philippines military bases for as long as they want. Agreements like EDCA allow the US to oversee the Philippine military and maintain a large imperial presence in the region. Meanwhile US military personnel continue to abuse Filipino people, such as the murder of trans woman Jennifer Laude by US Private Joseph Scott Pemberton.
The protesters in front of the Embassy were assaulted by water cannons and physically harassed by the PNP (the national police). Toward the end of the program the protesters were teargassed as the PNP blasted “Silent Night” and other Christmas carols to drown out their screaming. At this point Franklin Kho of the PNP got into a police truck and drove the vehicle in to the protesters, backed into more protestors, and charged the truck forward again rolling over several protesters. No protesters were killed but many were injured. The police falsely claim that the protestors were the first to use violence against the PNP, but the protest was peaceful. The PNP also claim that the protesters were attempting to tip over the police truck but it is clear from video recordings this was not the case.
2016 marks the 16th year of the Philippine Exchange Training (PET) program, a joint training program between the PNP and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police. The Bay Area Rapid Transit police who shot and murdered Oscar Grant underwent the same training received by the Philippine National Police who ran over protestors.
PET is only one example of US involvement in Filipino affairs. The US continues to support police repression against working class peoples’ within US borders and abroad. Since the US bought the Philippines for $20 million from Spain—the former colonizers of the Philippines—after the Spanish-American war, the US has enforced control over the land, resources, and people of the Philippines. The Philippine government has acted as the complicit puppet of the US.
This US trained police force is the same type of police force that murders Black people in the US with impunity and represses protestors at Standing Rock. The police in the Philippines serve the same capitalist interests as those who seek to poison the water of the Sioux tribe at Standing Rock. Corporate attacks on indigenous people are global and so our resistance must be as well.
Chelsea Carl is a guest contributor to Left Voice. She is a member of Anakbayan East Bay.