Probe sought over PNP’s use of ‘sonic weapon’ vs protesters

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MEMBERS of a leftist party-list group on Tuesday said they will file a resolution in the House of Representatives next week seeking an investigation of the deployment by the Philippine National Police (PNP) of a “sonic weapon” during a rally on Monday protesting the visit of US President Donald Trump.

Trump was in the country for the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) Summit, which began on Monday and ends today.

As he left on Tuesday afternoon, militant groups Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan, Anakbayan, Katribo and Kadamay once again staged a protest, this time on Mendiola Street in Manila but were kept at bay by the police at Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang.

On Monday, they tried to march to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City where the summit is being held but they were stopped by the police.

In the Tuesday mass action, hundreds of protesters from other militant groups–Sanlakas, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Partido Lakas ng Masa and Philippine Movement for Climate Justice–converged at Vito Cruz Street, a few meters away from the summit venue where they cried out to denounce alleged US intervention in Philippine affairs.

They attempted to breach security barricades but were stopped right in front of the Rizal Memorial Coliseum on Vito Cruz.

Four trucks and 300 anti-riot police were deployed on United Nations Avenue and Taft Avenue to prevent the protesters from getting near the US Embassy–their target location–on Roxas Boulevard.

In a statement, Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas of Gabriela party-list group slammed the use of the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), saying it constitutes a new level of state violence under the Duterte administration.

“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 [It is not okay for the police to just play with it every time there is a mobilization in order to cover the wrath of the citizens. The effect on the hearing and health of the protesters and the police alike is not a joke],” de Jesus and Brosas said in the statement.

Brosas cited several health reports that indicate that the sonic weapon can have varied effects on the human body, including 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 [How much did the PNP pay for these devices? And how many LRADs do they have in their arsenal? This should be bared],” she said.

Brosas noted that patients of the nearby Philippine General Hospital (PGH) where the mass action was held might also be affected.

De Jesus said the use of sound cannon to a “democratic” protest shows the “desperation” of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in handling the frustration of Filipinos in his administration.

She added that the use of the sonic weapon brings a new level of violence under the administration.

At least 56 protesters were reported injured, four of whom were brought to the hospital after a violent dispersal of the rally along Taft Avenue in Manila.

Police also used water cannons several times against the protesters.

with ASHLEY JOSE

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