SEVERAL lawmakers from the House of Representatives want an investigation on the use of a “sonic weapon” by Philippine National Police (PNP) during an anti-Trump rally on Monday.
“The latest anti-people weapon of the PNP must be probed and opposed. Hindi pwedeng paglaruan lang nila ito kada may mobilisasyon para pagtakpan ang galit ng mamamayan. Hindi biro ang epekto nito sa pandinig at kalusugan ng mga nasa pagkilos, at maging sa kapulisan mismo,” Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said on Tuesday.
(… It is not okay for police to just play with it every time there is a mobilization in order to cover the citizens’ anger. The effect on the hearing and health of the protesters and even police is no joke.)
Brosas cited several health reports, which indicated that the use of the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) may have varied effects on the human body like hearing trauma, permanent hearing loss and lingering headaches.
“Magkano ang pinambili ng PNP para rito? At ilan pang LRAD ang nakatabi sa arsenal ng kapulisan? Dapat na ilantad ito sa publiko,” Brosas said.
(How much did it cost the PNP to buy this? And how many LRADs are there? This should be revealed to the public.)
Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus said the use of a sound cannon on a “democratic” protest showed the “desperation” of President Rodrigo Duterte in handling the frustration of Filipinos in his administration.
De Jesus said that the use of the sonic weapon brought a new level of violence in the administration.
At least 56 were injured, four of who were brought to the hospital, during the clash along Taft Ave. Police also used water cannons against the protesters.
‘LRAD’ not a lethal device — Metro Manila police chief
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director General Oscar Albayalde said, however, that the LRAD was “not lethal”.
“It causes temporary discomfort. It is not considered a lethal device,” Albayalde said in an ambush interview outside One Esplanade on Tuesday.
Albayalde said the LRAD has been used for several years now in big rallies, especially during State Of the Nation Address (SONA) events or whenever there would be an encounter between rallyists and cops.
“That is being used for a long time now. [Militant groups] are just making this an issue now. NCRPO has this equipment for years because of these rallies,” Albayalde said.
Albayalde said that it was necessary to use the LRAD at that time. He said the police exercised “maximum tolerance” but were careful not to allow the protesters to pass through the barriers.
“We can’t let them get to the Asean event. What will happen to us? What will happen to the whole nation? We would be humiliated if we let them pass through,” Albayalde said.
Albayalde said the protesters had been a big problem for the police.
“The President said that with or without permit, rallies are allowed. However, he didn’t say violence is allowed,” Albayalde said.