MANILA, Philippines—The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) on Friday engaged in a dialogue with the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) following the confrontation between the ADMU community and members of QCPD during a Thursday night protest condemning Operation Tokhang.
“Today, the Ateneo Campus Security and Mobility Office (CSMO) had the opportunity to dialogue with the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), headed by Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, Police Chief Superintendent, to clarify matters,” ADMU President Jose Ramon T. Villarin, S.J said in a statement.
Ateneo alumni, faculty, staff and students on Thursday gathered at the campus’ Gate 2.5 to “express their continued indignation over the government’s war on drugs” through noise barrage and calling of names of the casualties of Operation Tokhang.
At 8:40 pm, a police mobile without a plate number pulled over to Gate 2.5. Two policemen alighted from the vehicle, approached the protesters, and asked them what the rally is about and who the leaders were. The protesters did not answer and quickly left the area.
In the dialogue between Ateneo Campus Security and Mobility Office (CSMO) and QCPD, Police Chief Superintendent Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar “conveyed his reassurance that the presence of the police yesterday was not meant to intimidate or harass the participants of the mobilization” but to “provide protection and assist in traffic control.”
Eleazar added that the police mobile his men used, albeit registered, did not have a plate number because it was issued by the local government just recently.
Furthermore, he apologized if the community felt threatened and unsafe due to their presence.
ADMU and QCPD also resolved to keep the communication lines between the two parties open when similar activities happen in the future.
They have also come up with the following agreement: the police shall comply with keeping appropriate distance from the site of assembly held in Ateneo grounds; they will remove their firearms if and when they need to approach to ensure crowd safety; and they will remind their people to maintain good public relations with the community.
Moreover, Fr. Villarin encouraged the Ateneo community to remain ‘calm, vigilant and prudent’ and affirmed his support towards the fight for the victims of the drug war.
“The University maintains its right to freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly…I reassure you of our support as you continue to fight for the remembrance of all the innocent victims of this drug war,” he said.