Lawmakers condemn ‘brutal’ dispersal of ‘kuliglig’ drivers

MILITANT members of the House of Representatives yesterday condemned the violent and inhumane dispersal of protesting ‘kuliglig’ drivers last Wednesday.

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said “the Aquino government is slowly showing the same despotism displayed by the previous Arroyo administration.”

“Instead of hearing out and responding to the legitimate grievances raised by pedicab drivers wanting to earn a living through decent means, the city government of Manila and the Philippine National Police (PNP) displayed sheer brutality and used excessive force,” Mariano said.

He added: “The right to peaceful assembly and petition the government to address grievances are constitutionally enshrined rights.”

“An urgent probe by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is in order to identify the PNP’s lapses and violations of its own operational procedure and rules of engagement concerning rally dispersals,” Mariano said.

The lawmaker also said policemen who were involved in the violent dispersal “must be made accountable for violation of human rights.”

“We are extremely disappointed with the way Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim handled the situation and grievances of his constituents,” Mariano said.

But Lim stood by his decision to ban the operation of kuliglig units in major thoroughfares or main roads of Manila.

A total of 16 protesters were charged with illegal assembly, direct assault and obstruction before the Manila Prosecutor’s Office.

Manila Police District Deputy Director for Administration Senior Supt. Alex Gutierrez said the charges were filed against: Eddie Managuelod, 50; Ato Ambag, 25; Kasir Morris, 28; Nelson Pineda, 35; Renato Palomo,40; Mary Joyce Mangalili, 22; Marietta Comor, 42; Armando Cudiamat, 43; Roberto Eugenio,17; Ricardo Dayanan,18; Allan Tayo, 35; Guiamel Mamoro, 26; Marvin Serrano, 25; Norjamil Daud,31;Joey Macalino,42; and Eluterio Tisado,53.

Gutierrez said one of the policemen injured when the drivers threw stones to resist dispersal remains at the hospital.

PO2 Adonis Aguila sustained a cut in the head that required 15 stitches done, he said. City Hall Detachment Commander Chief Insp. Mar Reyes was also hit in the face, as well as several policemen and a TV cameraman.

But another congressman said the protesters were provoked when the combined forces of the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Manila Police District and the Manila City Hall officials dispersed the drivers and their units.

“Around 70 pedicabs were impounded and were run over by a police truck. Kaya winasak na rin ang kabuhayan ng mga kuliglig drivers,” Rep. Neri Colmenares said.

“The Manila authorities should have shown tolerance considering the desperate straits the kuliglig drivers are in as they were afraid they would lose the honest livelihood they have been engaged in,” Colmenares added.

He asked: “The kuligligs contribute much less to pollution and traffic when compared to buses and private vehicles.  So why focus on kuligligs? Dahil mahirap lang sila?” D’JAY LAZARO/JERRYS. TAN

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