The Philippine National Police will file charges against a group of protesters who were able to march toward the venues for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting, the PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, said on Thursday.
“Some of our policemen were injured despite their adherence to the maximum tolerance policy and they were still provoked. ([hese]people caused injuries and harm to our people. Definitely, it is just right to file legal charges against them,” he told reporters during a news briefing at the International Media Center at the World Trade Center in Pasay City (Metro Manila).
He defended the use of water cannons to “cool down” protesters.
Protesters from leftist groups on Thursday morning were able to march on Buendia Avenue and Roxas Boulevard near the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), where the APEC leaders were meeting.
But police forces were able to stop the protesters from going near the PICC and the World Trade Center, where the International Media Center is located, by firing water cannons at the group.
Mayor said the cannons were “not pressurized to hit or cause injuries.”
“Basically, the intention is to cool down emotions that everybody is experiencing now,” he added.
Aside from the presence of world leaders, particularly US President Barack Obama, Bayan Muna was also protesting the gridlock caused by holding the APEC summit in Manila that bothered ordinary citizens, whose economic activities were all halted because of road closures around Metro Manila.
Mayor noted that the PNP was asked to only use “reasonable force if necessary”.
“[We will use] maximum restraint and maximum tolerance, especially in this kind of confrontation. Maximum tolerance pertains to the policemen’s attitude or behavior of policemen to this kind of situation,” he said.
“Policemen should have the particular highest degree of patience, so as not to be provoked by these protesters.”
Mayor declined to identify the groups behind the protests but said they would be named after the situation calms down.
He said there was already a negotiation between the PNP and the protesters, even before the APEC meeting, but the groups still opted to push through with the protest.
Earlier, the Chinese Embassy in Manila asked the Philippine government to stop possible protests against President Xi Jinping, who is in Manila for the APEC summit.
Protests against the Chinese Embassy were held in the past because of China’s reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).