November 24, 2017, 5:12 pm
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‘Sonic weapon’ used against protesters

LEFT-LEANING lawmakers want a congressional investigation into the  use by the police of a “sonic weapon” against protesters on Taft Avenue, Manila last Monday.

Rep. Carlos Zarate (PL, Bayan Muna) said he would file a resolution calling for a congressional probe into the violent dispersal, along with Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas of the Gabriela party-list group.

The Manila Police District has filed charges against former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, and medical volunteer Neil Legaspi in connection with the Monday protest.

Reyes, in a Facebook post, said anti-riot police also used the “sonic weapon” to disperse them, aside from water cannons.

The weapon, he said, emitted a high-pitched repetitive sound.

“It’s designed to disrupt the protest. Delikado ang weapon na ‘yan (The weapon is dangerous). It affects everyone, even bystanders. That’s a serious assault to the people. It’s a violation of our rights,” he said.

The long-range acoustic device (LRAD) is widely used in the US to disperse protesters.

NCRPO chief Director Oscar Albayalde said the LRAD would not kill anyone but cause enough discomfort to keep unruly demonstrators at bay. He also said it has been used for years, including for protest actions for state of the nation addresses.

De Jesus and Brosas said the use of the LRAD at the rally “constitutes a new level of state violence as there was intent to harm the protesters during the skirmish along Taft Avenue.”

They said the device generated “an earsplitting sound against protesters.” 

Brosas said several reports have shown the LRAD can have varied effects on the human body, including hearing trauma, permanent hearing loss, and lingering headaches.

“How much did it cost the PNP to acquire it? And how many LRAD do they have in their arsenal? It should be made public,” she said.

“PNP’s use of the sonic weapon brings the Duterte regime’s violence to a whole new level, and highlights the country’s puppetry, with LRAD manufactured in America for the defense of US President Trump, the most notorious face of sexism and militarism right now,” De Jesus said

The protest yesterday was peaceful unlike Monday’s mass action which left several policemen and at least 50 protesters injured in a skirmish on Taft avenue and Padre Faura street.

The protesters who were from leftist groups tried to break the police line but were blocked by anti-riot policemen as they attempted to march to the Philippine International Convention Center where foreign dignitaries were participating in events related to the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings. The protesters threw bottles, stones, pieces of wood, and slippers at the law enforcers.

The National Capital Region Police Office, anticipating another attempt by the protesters to march to the PICC, yesterday deployed about 1,000 additional policemen in Metro Manila.

Albayalde said the additional troops coming from the Special Action Force and the Southern Tagalog Police Regional Office will ensure enough ground police personnel will prevent militant groups from advancing towards the summit venue.

Albayalde also said 28 policemen were hurt during Monday’s clash along Taft avenue.

He said the protesters tried to force their way through police barricades to get near the PICC which they very well know is a no-rally area.

Yesterday’s protest rally was held at the foot of Mendiola (Don Chino Roces) Bridge near Malacañang.

The protesters belonging to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and allied organizations came from the Liwasang Bonifacio along Taft avenue. They ended the Mendiola rally ended with the burning of a giant US flag. – JP Lopez, Wendell Vigilia and Raymond Africa 
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