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MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE 3:35 PM) The Quezon City police are readying charges against rally leaders whom they hold responsible for the violence that marred Monday's anti-SONA protest march on Commonwealth Avenue, but the militant group BAYAN said police had ignored the fact that protesters complied with all the legal requirements for holding the rally, and imposed unlawful barriers.
The ralliers are accused of damaging a police car and other private vehicles. At least 19 policemen and 16 protesters were hurt in the melee that police said was sparked by the ralliers' insistence on breaking through a security barriers and entering areas outside of their rally permits.
Bayan blames police
The militant group Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) condemned the violence that erupted Monday during protest actions against President Benigno Aquino III's State of the Nation Address (SONA) but put the blame squarely on the police.
Bayan said in a statement Tuesday the incident was sparked by an "illegal" police blockade that barred protesters from going near the Batasan building.
Protesters threw rocks and toppled police barricades, wounding 95 persons including media workers and policemen. Vehicles were also damaged from the incident.
"We hold the Aquino government, the City Government and the Philippine National Police responsible for the violence that occurred yesterday. Bayan and its allied groups have scheduled a protest action
on SONA day to highlight issues of poverty, human rights, unemployment, foreign mining and plunder, and US military intervention but were prevented from reaching Batasan Road," Bayan said in a statement.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said an investigation is now under way to determine if charges will be filed against the ralliers.
PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the protesters should be held accountable especially for the wounded and the damaged government vehicles.
Bayan said those wounded were brought to the East Avenue Medical Center for treatment. The group reiterated that they had "legal basis" to march beyond Ever Gotesco to the Batasan Road due to a permit they applied for with the city government as early as July 10. The permit was not acted upon by the city government within the required period of two days.
"Because of this, the application is deemed granted under the provisions of Batas Pambansa 880. The application itself shall serve as the permit. The police therefore was violating the law when it blocked the protesters with anti-riot cops, steel railings, concrete barriers, dump trucks and container vans. The police were lying when the ground commander said that they had not received any permit because they knew full well that Bayan complied with the legal requirements," Bayan said.