Activists: Violent dispersal on Wed. may be preview of state action vs protests under Marcos admin

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — The relatively peaceful protest at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) compound in Quezon City turned violent on Wednesday when authorities stopped the demonstrators from marching to the Batasang Pambansa, where the proclamation of winning presidential and vice presidential candidates took place.

Protesters wanted the family of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to be held liable for corruption and human rights violations during the Martial Law years and for the government to look into the supposed irregularities during the May 9 elections.

Police officers in full-battle gear clashed with the activists, as a water cannon was used to disperse them.

Fourteen protesters were hurt during the commotion.

"Hindi talaga natin inaasahan itong overkill reaction ng pulis...Sa tingin natin, uncalled for, unnecessary, naging inconvenience sa mga motorista, tapos gumamit pa ng dahas," Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) spokesperson Raymond Palatino told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: We really weren't expecting this overkill reaction from the police. We think it was uncalled for, unnecessary, and it brought inconvenience to motorists. Then, violence was even used.]

The police, meanwhile, explained their action was part of the plan to ensure a peaceful and orderly conduct of the proclamation of the country's next leaders.

They insist they exercised maximum tolerance.

"There is no such thing as exaggerated action. Baka naman kapag wala kayong makitang pulis ay magagalit kayo, pero tama lang naman ang personnel na dineploy ng NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) dito," said PMGen. Val De Leon in a statement.

[Translation: You bet you'll get angry if you don't see police officers in the area. The number of personnel deployed by NCRPO is just right.]

Protesters, however, argue that if maximum tolerance meant using water cannon and hitting people with sticks, then people just got a peek of what the new norm will be under the Marcos administration.

"Ito ba ay pasilip sa mangyayari in the next six years, 'yung paranoid reaction ng pulis, 'yung intolerance sa dissent?" Palatino said.

[Translation: Is this a preview of what will happen in the next six years, the paranoid reaction of the police, the intolerance of dissent?]

The groups are set to discuss with CHR the appropriate actions to take in connection with the violent dispersal, as they prepare for bigger protests in the coming days leading to the inauguration of Marcos on June 30th.