Anti-Aquino protesters want probe on use of water cannon

MILITANT groups will conduct an investigation into the use of water cannon to turn back protesters who marched along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, in Monday's State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the protesters experienced itchiness in the body and their clothes turned pink after authorities used water cannons to disperse them.

Reyes said they would seek help from the Alliance of Health Workers to identify if the water was mixed with a chemical dangerous to the health.

MANILA. Police use water cannons to disperse the protesters who destroyed the barricades and insisted on getting near the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City where President Benigno Aquino III is delivering his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday. (Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)

"If it will be proven that it has bad effects sa tao, we plan to appeal to the Philippine National Police (PNP)," he said.

Police officers earlier explained that the pink water from the water cannon was safe and it was only used to identify the individuals who were part of the rally.

On Monday, militant groups conducted a rally several kilometers away from Batasang Pambansa where Aquino delivered his fifth Sona. Protesters urged Aquino to step down from his post citing the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional.

The protesters destroyed the barricades created by the police and as a response, Quezon City Police Director (QCPD) chief Richard Albano ordered the use of the water cannons to control the crowd and to avoid clash between the militants and anti-riot police who were at the third line of defense.

Rights group Hustisya described the PNP's use of water cannons as "overkill" since there was no way for protesters to breach the multiple barricades established by the police.

The group also refused to believe the PNP's claims that the water used to fire at protesters was simply mixed with food color.

"The contaminated water might contain chemical elements that are hazardous to people's health. Those PNP officers who ordered the firing of contaminated water at the protesters are answerable to this ruckus," said Hustisya secretary general Cristina Guevarra.

Guevarra added that as protests against President Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) are mounting, they expect more brutal measures by the PNP to quell dissents. (Virgil Lopez/Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)


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