[After the “million people marching” against corruption (P10 B pork scam), we repaired to one nook for coffee to draft a statement condemning the PNP raid on Aksyon Radyo station. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) with its president Nestor Burgos (PDI) and Iloilo Press Club (IPC) president Francis Allan Angelo, agreed to sign the joint statement.]
IPC’s Angelo and NUJP’s Burgos: PNP used excessive force
How do you feel when a squad of SWAT men in full combat gear, with bullet-proof vests and Kevlar helmets training their assault rifles that they did to personnel of Aksyon Radyo and a security guard of another tenant of one commercial building in Iloilo City early dawn of August 25, 2013?
With NUJP-Iloilo past president Limuel Celebria. The civilians were unarmed and have already yielded to PNP authority, why further subject them to physical and mental torment?
I am not alone in feeling that rage. Members of the Iloilo press share that sentiment. The radio station personnel – newsroom technicians plus night anchor Jun Capulot – the security guard were unarmed. The private guard, who already laid down his service firearm, and the radio personnel already voluntarily submitted themselves to the custody of the raiding team but the later further subjected them to needless and idiotic procedure as follows:
a. They were made to crawl out of the office at gun point. The police officers disliked the way the guard crawled; one of them kicked him to completely drop his abdomen on the floor, and handcuffed him in that prostrate position;
b. The SWAT ignored the pleading of the radio personnel who told them that it was they (Aksyon Radyo people) who called up the PNP reporting that a group of young men, some of them injured, entered the building, minutes ago. The visitors later on their own left to bring the injured to the hospital. Aksyon Radyo communicated that to the PNP;
c. The SWAT ordered the civilians under their custody to strip their clothes off, and later, hauled them off to the police station. The detainees were released before 6 am. That is illegal detention; and
d. The raiders further seized personal belongings of their victims.
Supt. Ruperto Floro, Iloilo City PNP director, a few hours later de facto cleared his men saying they did rightly follow the “rules of engagement” of considering everybody around as “suspects” and treating them accordingly.
That is a dangerous statement, coming as it does from a ranking police officer. Even suspected criminals and those already charged in court, have rights to be respected during arrest. They have the right to be informed of their rights – to remain silent and have a counsel of choice. They have the right from verbal and physical abuse the moment they voluntarily submitted themselves to PNP custody.
The Aksyon Radyo personnel and the security guard were not even suspects. They were civilians, unarmed and already peaceably yielded to the authority of the raiding team.
Why the excessive force, Director Floro? Que barbaridad: he has already exonerated his men even before an investigation is made.
It’s ‘normal’ when PNP train assault rifles on unarmed civilians, Supt. Floro?