Philippine National Police Van Rams Protesters in Front of US Embassy

Philippine National police van rammed and ran over baton-wielding protesters outside the US embassy in the capital Manila. Police also used tear gas and truncheons on Wednesday to try to disperse about 1,000 people who had gathered in support of President Rodrigo Duterte's recent comments that he wanted to loosen his nation's alliance with the United States. Police made at least 23 arrests, said Chief Inspector Arsenio Riparip, one of the officers overseeing the incident, adding demonstrators broke through the line of police securing the embassy's gates. The van's driver, police officer Franklin Kho, told reporters he was driving the van away from the protesters because he feared they would try to seize it and use it to attack the police. Photos showed a grey-haired man trapped underneath the stationary van with his leg and hips under one of the back tyres. The rally came as Duterte visits Beijing to strengthen relations with the world's second-largest economy amid deteriorating ties with former colonial power, the US. "We had to disperse them. They started it.

They were trying to enter the embassy," Riparip told AFP news agency. "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. Some screamed in surprise, others hurled stones at the van and yelled invectives.

A speaker called the police "puppies of imperialists" on a loudspeaker. A firetruck doused the rowdy protesters with water to push them back, but they took hold of the water hose and confronted the outnumbered police with rocks and red paint. After breaking through the police corridor, they scribbled "US troops out now" and other slogans on the embassy's tall fence with red paint. Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde confirmed the 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." "The protest action of the national minorities called for the end to US military intervention and plunder in the Philippines," Karapatan said. "The police should serve and protect the Filipino people's interests, and should not trample on the rights of citizens to freely express their opinions and exercise their right to freedom of assembly over the interests of the US embassy officials who may just be incensed by the calls inscribed by the national minorities on the US embassy seal - because the utter truth of the matter is, they should really get the hell out of our country for all the crimes they perpetrated vs the Filipino people," it added.
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