By Chito Chavez
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Committee on Security, Peace and Order, and Emergency Preparedness and Response (CSPOEPR) called on the leaders of protests and mass actions to conduct their demonstrations in an orderly manner and not to resort to violence when airing their grievances during the 31st ASEAN Summit.
The ASEAN CSPOEPR made the appeal as 21 policemen were injured after militant groups protesting against US President Donald Trump turned violent at the corner of Padre Faura Street and Taft Avenue in Manila on Monday morning.
Chief Supt. Noel Baraceros, ASEAN Security Task Force (ASTF) Operations Officer, said that while the security forces have been advised to strictly adhere to police operational protocols, they have to stand their ground in order to prevent the protesters from getting close to the summit venue.
“There are freedom parks where you can hold your protest activities. Do not attempt to get close to the Summit venues because our forces on the ground will not allow this to happen and we will be forced to disperse you,” Baraceros said.
He said protests done in undesignated areas cause inconvenience to motorists and commuters, restrict the movement of people as well as affect the peace and order of nearby communities.
“Protesters’ freedom to assemble must not encroach upon others’ freedom to movement,” he added.
He assured that the police are trained to avoid any altercations or confrontation with rallyists.
“But if you insist on having your way, you will be immediately dispersed so as not to interrupt the summit where the interest and welfare of the whole ASEAN is being discussed,” he noted.
On the other hand, he prodded troopers especially CSPOEPR’s civil disturbance management units to protect themselves at all times in the performance of their duties.
“Use all the necessary equipage provided you to protect yourselves when facing the protesters. While keeping the police operational procedures in mind, it is important that you never lose your guard because as much as possible, we don’t want you or anybody to get hurt during the protests,” he ordered.
Meanwhile, Police Supt. Ronald Hipolito of the ASTF Joint Task Group on Peace and Order said the protesters were reportedly attempting to go near the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) where the ASEAN Summit is being held.
“Rallyists attacked police contingents. This resulted in the arrest of one of the protesters who threw stones at the police. Some protesters also took away the shields, helmets, and truncheons of our police force,” Hipolito said.
He added, “Maximum tolerance was practiced by authorities on the ground but resorted to use of water cannons only when protesters turned violent and had to be dispersed.”
Not for pleasantries
Earlier, DILG OIC and CSPOEPR Chairperson Catalino S. Cuy explained the importance of not disrupting ASEAN activities.
“Providing efficient security service for the ASEAN 2017 is not for pleasantries but for loftier goal of public interest, not only for the Filipino people but for the whole of ASEAN Community as common socioeconomic and political issues are to be tackled by our top leaders in the ASEAN region together with dialogue partners in the global arena,” said Cuy.
“High level security for high level meetings is for us in ASEAN Community. Let’s partner for change, let’s engage the world,” he emphasized.
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