August 28, 2011
Reference: League of Filipino Students at San Francisco State University
For Immediate Release: Fil-Am Students in the U.S. Condemn Police Brutality Against Anti-Budget Cut Demonstrators in the Philippines
On August 25, 2011, thousands of students, youth, educators, health workers, overseas workers (OFWs), and community members under the multi-sectoral alliance of Kilos na Laban sa Budget Cuts (Act Now Against the Budget Cuts) peacefully rallied in front of the Philippine House of Representatives, decrying the Aquino administration’s proposed 2012 National Budget. The newly proposed budget would disproportionately cut funds for basic social services in the Philippines, such as healthcare, education, and housing, and instead allocate aid for military and intelligence operations.
The proposed national budget would cut another daunting P500 million in 2012 to fifty state universities and colleges in the Philippines, on top of the P1 billion cut to higher education in 2011. Hundreds of youth and students were present at the rally, denouncing the government’s budget cuts to education.
The rally was carried out peacefully, up until the third to last speaker of the program, when the Philippine National Police (PNP) and House of Representatives security personnel began violently attacking demonstrators near the gates of the Congress building with batons, wooden rods, and rocks. The police then proceeded to fire water cannons at the crowd, even after demonstrators had backed up and peacefully resisted the beatings.
Five were reportedly severely injured at the scene, two of which were committee members of youth organization, ANAKBAYAN. Aki Merced, spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students, stated that “some were poked in the eyes with blunt objects, some got seriously hurt because the police hit them with wooden rods that had metal inside. Ironically, among our demands is to augment the health budget, we probably won’t be able to afford getting medical attention as most public hospital services are privatized now”.
ANAKBAYAN and Kilos na Alliance have jointly filed charges against the Commission of Human Rights against the Quezon City Police District and the Security Office of the House of Representatives.
The League of Filipino Students at San Francisco State University support the Filipino people’s right to assemble peacefully and demand higher budget allocations to healthcare, education, and housing. We denounce the Philippine government and the National Police for its violent dispersal against the demonstrators, and support the filing of the charges against the Quezon City Police and Security Office of House of Representatives.
Under this worsening economic crisis, the Aquino administration should be adequately serving the needs of Filipino people, not violently suppressing those who are critical of the government’s neglect and failure to do so. Coupled with economic unrest, these brutal police attacks on the people will only further intensify the resistance and militancy amongst the youth, students, and people of the Philippines.