(UPDATED) Police defended Tuesday the use of a sonic weapon to disperse protesters as militant groups condemned the move, describing it as "a new level of state violence."
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde said the long range acoustic device (LRAD) that riot police used during Monday's clash with protesters in Manila is not fatal and causes only discomfort.
Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, on the other hand, said the sonic weapon can harm one's hearing while Gabriela Women's Party Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas said the weapon causes hearing trauma, permanent hearing loss and lingering headaches.
De Jesus and Brosas said they plan to file a resolution seeking an investigation into the use of such a device, which they described as an anti-people weapon.
On Monday, protesters from different militant groups clashed with riot police as they attempted to march towards the Philippine International Convention Center, where the 31st Association of the Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) Leaders Summit is being held.
Riot police used water and sound cannons to stop the protesters, who have started to breach the barricade. At least six policemen and 10 rallyists were hurt, according to the Manila Police District.
On its website, LRAD Corp. described its long range acoustic device as a long-range communication system used to broadcast warning tones and highly intelligible voice messages to potential threats from close range up to three kilometers.
Albayalde said the device does not have any harmful effect.
"Ginagamit po iyan talaga during hindi mo na talaga ma-kontrol ang mga raliyista kagaya kahapon, sinaktan na at pilit silang lumulusot doon sa barikada (It is used when you can no longer control the rallyists just like yesterday when they were forcing through the barricades)," NCRPO director .
"Mas masakit po iyung water cannon lalo na 'pag sobrang lakas ang pressure, para ka na pong sinuntok n'yan (The water cannon is more painful especially if it's high pressure. It's like being punched)," he added.
Reyes denied that the protesters had become violent.
“Hindi totoo na ang mga nagpo-protesta ay marahas. Ang totoo po ang nakita natin tinambakan tayo ng mga pulis, trucks, shield and truncheons at pag may kaharap na ganyang klase ng pasismo ang tungkulin po namin ay i-defy o i-resist at ‘yun ang ginawa namin kahapon at tumulak ang mga nagpo-protesta dahil ayaw nilang tanggapin ang ang hindi makatarungan restriction na ginagawa ng kapulisan,” he said.
(It is not true that the protesters had become violent. The truth is, we were bombarded by police officers, trucks, shields and truncheons and when we face such fascism, our responsibility is to defy or resist and that is what we did yesterday. What the police did was not fair.)
He condemned the use of the LRAD and criticized the police for using the weapon without any clear guidelines.
De Jesus and Brosas of Gabriela described the use of LRAD as "a new level of state violence."
“The latest anti-people weapon of the PNP must be probed and opposed. Hindi pwedeng paglaruan lang nila ito kada may mobilisasyon para pagtakpan ang galit ng mamamayan. Hindi biro ang epekto nito sa pandinig at kalusugan ng mga nasa pagkilos, at maging sa kapulisan mismo,” Rep. Brosas said, adding that patients at the nearby Philippine General Hospital (PGH) might have also been affected.
“Magkano ang pinambili ng PNP para rito? At ilan pang LRAD ang nakatabi sa arsenal ng kapulisan? Dapat na ilantad ito sa publiko,” Brosas added.
De Jesus said blasting a sound cannon against protesters is a desperate attempt to silence calls of the militant groups.
“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.
“It is a desperate attempt to drown the legitimate calls of women and the people for the pullout of US troops and junking of one-sided trade and military agreements,” she added.
Trump's attendance to the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) summit on Monday were met with protests from various groups calling on him to stop meddling in the South China Sea row and pull out US troops in the country, among others. (SunStar Philippines)