A Philippine National Police van on Wednesday rammed and ran over baton-wielding protesters outside the US Embassy in Manila.
Police used teargas and truncheons to try to disperse hundreds of people who had gathered in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent comments that he wanted to loosen PH’s alliance with the United States.
A total of 23 protesters were arrested, said Chief Insp. Arsenio Riparip, one of the officers overseeing the incident.
He said the protesters broke through the line of police securing the embassy’s gates.
“We had to disperse them. They started it. They were trying to enter the embassy,” Riparip told AFP. “We had to use tear gas. They overpowered our policemen.”
A police van reversed quickly back into a crowd of dozens of protesters and then forward, running over at least two people and banging into others, footage broadcast by local television network ABS-CBN showed.
Photos showed a grey-haired man afterwards trapped underneath the stationary van, with his leg and hips under one of the back tires.
Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde confirmed the police van hit protesters but insisted the driver was not at fault.
“They weren’t really run over,” Albayalde said in a statement, referring to the protesters.
The rallyists were trying to flip over the patrol car. In the process, the driver extricated the patrol car and inadvertently hit some unruly protesters who sustained minor injuries.”
One of the protest leaders, Amirah Lidasan, accused the police of starting the violence.
“It was the police who attacked the protesters. First they rammed the police vehicle against the people. Then they released teargas and hit us with truncheons,” she said.
In another report, about 10 Manila Police District (MPD) operatives were injured during the protest rally where police were outnumbered.
Among those wounded were PO1s Alan Reyes, Gerald Almoite, Windsmar Inoc, Sherdale Von Abella and Jenalyn Dimaano.
The said protesters, who want Americans out of Mindanao, also reportedly damaged a mobile car of the National Capital Region Police Office.
Three of the rallyists were reportedly hurt when they were hit by the car as it was backing to get out of the area.
Police said bottles filled with water rained on them. Additional firetrucks were also requested when some of the protesters grabbed the hose from the truck already on standby.
Those arrested were brought to the MPD-General Assignment and Investigation Section (MPD-GAIS) for the filing of appropriate charges against them.