The Violent Dispersal of Students in the Mendiola Lightning Rally

““The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation.” –Pearl S. Buck

courtesy of Romeo Ranoco
unarmed protesters are no match for a baton, steel barrier, concrete barrier, and a metal signpost

Once upon a time, I was a student who joined lightning rallies in the seventies. But in the days of Martial Law, we knew that anyone caught in such rallies meant torture and immediate imprisonment in the military stockade for months. Lightning rallies entailed being with a buddy of the opposite sex. We ended up pretending to be steadies just strolling in the park. At a pre-arranged signal, the buddies converged towards the center of a busy place such as Luneta Park and chanting “Marcos , dictator , tuta” in front of a startled public, similar to what you would see in this Flash mob dance. Instead of dancing, we yelled , marched then scampered away as “love-struck steadies” on a date, even before the military or police authorities arrived. Our leader knew the dangers of such rallies and warned us to be careful at all times. I knew my limits but even then I got some close calls.

courtesy of Danny Boy Pata
A member of the Presidential Security Group kicks a protester in the face even after he is subdued

Times have changed. Today, our fragile democracy enables us to have freedom of speech and to organize rallies. Seeing photos of the brutal dispersal of these students was just painful to watch. I bet these kids never knew they would be treated so violently like that. True, these kids went beyond the “no rally zone” to protest the alleged “overspending” of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her entourage during their recent US visit.

courtesy of Alanah Torralba
the placards read:
“PGMA: Most Lavish Most Hated President”
“Budget sa Serbisyo, Hindi sa Luho”

They may have acted immature and tested the law just a bit wee too much but I think they never expected to be hurt in such brutal manner. As you can see, the Manila anti-riot police and members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) violent actions prove to be over the top. I was not there to witness the students but a friend who was in the vicinity said the students were also “violent”.

courtesy of Aaron Favila
Cops attempt to crush a downed protester with a steel barrier

Now pray tell me how “violent” were the students? Were they carrying sticks, throwing stones or were they pushing their way through the gates? ““It is clear from the TV footage and photos that the police and the Presidential Security Group used excessive force in dealing with the activists. Even the arrested activists were beaten up,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. in a statement.

courtesy of Danny Boy Pata
A plainclothes soldier draws his gun against unarmed protesters

courtesy of Junie Doctor
a member of the Presidential Security Group in the process of pointing his automatic rifle at unarmed protesters

There are lessons to be learned from this rally.

1. Students should not assume the definition of maximum tolerance because there is a limit. Students may think that maximum tolerance is that they will not be harmed in a violent manner. But for the Presidential Security, going beyond Gate 7 was the limit as it is a security breach…and they needed to be ejected in that area, however

““They suddenly hit us with truncheons the moment they saw us in Malacañang. I thought they were supposed to observe maximum tolerance,” Anakbayan-PUP chair Chaser Soriano added in Filipino.

2. The Manila Police District (MPD) and the Presidential Security Group (PSG) should know the boundaries of engagement. Was excessive force necessary? Does kicking the face of a subdued student one of the protocols for engagement?

courtesy of Danny Boy Pata
a protester is reduced to near-nakedness after police tear his clothes to shreds.

Clearly, a congressional inquiry on the violent dispersal of these student protesters should be initiated. What do you think?

courtesy of Alanah Torralba
the chairperson of the UP-CSWCD Student Council is lifted by her hair by a member of the PSG

courtesy of Junie Doctor
a member of the LFS in UP Diliman is collared by two plainclothes soldiers

More photos

Facebook Photos of the Rally

Militant Youth Successfully Entered Malacanan Complex

View this video

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Photo Credits and captions to Anton Dulce from Facebook

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1386 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

  • Pingback: sparks()

  • Authorities have really gone way overboard in this case. 🙁
    .-= Rowena Wendy Lei´s last blog ..Affordable anti-aging in a bottle with Celeteque Advanced! =-.

    • sobra talaga. naawa talaga ako sa mga bata

  • I think we should be thankful none of them were shot. If anybody had breached 1600 Pensylvannia Ave’s gates, they would’ve been shot by snipers permanently stationed at the rooftop. Armed or unarmed.

    I do not condone the acts of violence the PNP and PSG committed to the protesters after they were arrested, but really, is there a way for the PNP and PSG to be sure that NONE of these people were, indeed, armed in any manner?

    Both parties went way out of line here. The leaders of the activists must also be held responsible in not holding back his group.

    • I do agree both went out of line and I hope they have learned their lessons. Between the two though, the authorities went overboard in their protocols for engagement. I am just glad no one was shot or killed. Thank goodness.

    • :)

      hahaha…anu un???ehh diba nga dapat makikipag negotiation muna yung mga pnp at psg bago gumamit ng force??ehh ang nang yari pag ka pasok ng mga estudyante ehh binugbog na lang sila bigla…panoorin mo kasi yung video…wala namang mga dalang nakakasakit yung mga batang yun do not condone the acts of violence that the pnp and psg comitted??haha dahil sa kadahilanan mong d sila sigurado kung may mga armas nga yung mga estudyante??ehh nahuli na nga yung iba binubug-bog pa ehh di pa rin ba sila sigurado kung may armas nga yung mga nahuli nila??para gamitan pa ng dahas??mag isip-isip ka nga ng mabuti bago ka mag salita…both parties went way out of line???panoorin mo kasi yung video paatras na kaya yung mga estudyante nung pinag gugulpi sila..

  • I totally agree. We are no longer under martial rule. These are all b*ll sh*t. And yes, so much for maximum tolerance.
    .-= pinoygossipboy´s last blog ..Marian Rivera, lifted by crew en route to taping location =-.

  • Thanks for spreading the word! I really hope this isn’t the beginning of a series of violent rallies. :\
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Welcome, My Friend =-.

  • Jozzua

    Tsk tsk. Stupid.

  • spitfire19

    that’s the problem with activist, medyo lumabag sila sa law, i think Malacanang Palace is unauthorized to civilians pero pinilit parin nila pumasok, but ang mali lang ng mga guards eh masyadong brutal yun dispersal nila, pero atleast walang namatay.

  • As elections draw near, tensions will only rise with rallies and violent clashes like this becoming more and more common.
    .-= Jhay´s last blog ..Canon PowerShot SD980 IS – first PowerShot with touchscreen LCD =-.

  • pompyang

    please look also at photos posted in

  • pish


  • BrianB

    Puro drama eh. Didn’t they expect to get arrested when they broke into Malacanang gates? They were lucky GMA was not there. I think the PSG has a right to use deadly force in these situations.

    I stopped liking GMA since she lied on Rizal Day (about running) and with Garci I’d given up on our government altogether, but I also don’t like passive aggressive protests. Pipilitin nilang pasukin ang Malacanang tapos iiyak sila pag binugbog. What is this, a democracy?

    • sure, they may have expected to be arrested. they did not however, for valid reasons, expect to be beaten up, have their clothes ripped apart and be confronted with rifles. the police are only allowed to employ the least force as necessary to repel any real danger

      • BrianB

        Remember Mendiola massacre? Those farmers were outside the gates. This happened inside. The protesters were using violence as well (see video). If you punch a cop, he has a right to beat you up. You’ll even land a very harsh sentence in the court. You’re a law student; look it up.

        It’s the usual MO of the reds. Provoke the government to use violence, which you’ll then use as more grist to your propaganda mill. This happened in the 70s as well.

        I think we should use a more level-headed approach. In case we win, level-headedness would reign. These people–what would they do if they win? If they’re anxious about the passiveness of the populace, they should learn to respect the choices the people make. If the people do not want to do anything at the moment, well, then, let the status quo be. It’s frustrating, but that is democracy.

        • puro speculation. were you there to be so certain the students made the first violent move? regardless, the police are only allowed to use force the least force necessary to prevent the ‘attack’ or ‘danger’, real or imaginary. maximum tolerance, especially because they are armed and trained in violence. certainly, the police and the psg exceeded it by beating the students up, ripping their clothes apart, dragging them on asphalt, and lifting them by their hair.

          the students were protesting a legitimate public concern on public property. you should learn to respect the choices people make. if you do not want what they do, then let them be. that is democracy.
          .-= bikoy´s last blog ..Ninoy Aquino 26th martyrdom anniversary =-.

  • regardless if malacanang was a no-rally zone, the police clearly used violence more than what was necessary to repel or stop the protesters from advancing through. they could’ve just placed a blockade and arrested those who insisted. but no, they had to beat them up, drag some of them on asphalt, carry some of them by the hair, rip their clothes apart, and worse they carried guns and armalites contrary to well-settled rules on engagement.

  • BrianB

    If you spread this thinking–police should practice maximum tolerance in most or every scenario (I’m assuming, basing on your contention on police behavior against Malacanang intruders)–the result is either of only two possibilities: criminals will have a field day, having no fear of our ill-equipped and undermaned police or you will be putting citizens in harms way, because they’ll be assuming they can punch a cop or shout at a cop with little or no danger to their persons.

    Even in Europe where their police force is provided with the latest armor and crowd control devices, they respond forcefully and even brutally during riots.

    I don’t understand where you get this fantasy that our police force must be oh-so subtle and caring in doing their jobs.

    And malacanang deserves the highest security measures, no matter if the sitting president is a saint or a sinner.

    • It is not fantasy, it is based on law and jurisprudence. Policemen are not allowed to employ force beyond what is necessary to prevent any real and impending danger. Unarmed students marching and chanting does not pose a danger that deserves state violence. If you spread your kind of thinking, we’ll be having kuratong baleleng incidents left and right. Police will have a field day beating up and killing alleged criminals without due process, putting innocent citizens in harms way.

      And, huh? Police brutality happening in Europe does not validate or legitimize the acts of unnecessary police violence.
      .-= bikoy´s last blog ..Ninoy Aquino 26th martyrdom anniversary =-.

  • BrianB

    I remember these same rallyists beat up “suspected spies” in the crowd… like the streets are their exclusive property.

    • you were there? you sure these were the “same” rallyists? this is such a lame attempt at tarnishing the rights of the students to justify the violence the police employed. they are two different events. using these reasons prove the bankruptcy of your assertions. stick to the point.
      .-= bikoy´s last blog ..Ninoy Aquino 26th martyrdom anniversary =-.

  • clearly, the pictures shows how tolerant the police are…

    uy I can picture your rally era.. ang cute no, kunyari love birds, aktibista pala 🙂

    You’re not too old for Mommy Moments no, you’re still a mom kahit may mga dalaga ka na 🙂
    .-= pehpot´s last blog ..Mommy Moments- Rain Rain Go Away =-.

  • mark

    i can agree no less with bikoy. true enough, both sides had crossed the line. but the mere fact that it was the youth’s sector they were violent against is already an act to contrary to the oath they swore to protect.

  • BrianB

    Bikoy, that surprise rally and intrusion into palace grounds was planned to provoke the guards to shoot. I have no doubt about it. If they only want to hold peaceful protest, why not hold it outside the palace or where it is permissible, and why not invite other protesters.

    They wanted to catch the guards by surprise in the hopes that the guards will open fire. The protesters themselves may not realize this but ginamit lang sila. Canon fodder. Good thing the guards didn’t when they should’ve.

    • it doesn’t debunk the principle that the police, having the armed advantage, are required to exercise maximum tolerance and use the least force possible, or at most an equal force as the offense, in preventing any danger, which has to be real and impending, not imagined–a danger unarmed chanting students did not pose. your speculations will simply not defend the police’s brutality in court.
      .-= bikoy´s last blog ..Isang Milyon, Isang Panata Launch =-.

  • mario

    me permissible place para mag-rally. that demonstration was done in a restricted area and and without permit. no chance to exercise maximum tolerance when the crowd becomes unruly.

  • maris

    i agree with mario. i don’t get the logic of being “peaceful” and thentrying to enter force their way into the gates. If they wanted a peaceful rally, then they could have done it somewhere else. problem is, kung sa ibang area sila nagrally, walang media attention eh yun naman kase ung gusto nila.

  • Trifecta

    what is maximum tolerance? is it not the most abuse a person can tolerate before he takes action? then that would differ per officer there. Bikoy talks about using at most an ‘equal’ amount of force. How can 1 officer present equal force to 10 activists? The demonstrators outnumber the officers there. are you saying that if the rallyists started punching the police, the police were only allowed to use their fists as well? 10 to 1?

    Yes it’s sad that the police went overboard. but the heat of a fight can warp any mans thinking. even the rallyists themselves get lost in the mayhem and do things they would not be proud off.

    The fact is there are rules. do not cross this line so that we will not cross THE line.

    oh, btw, if you break into someones house and he hits you with a bat? Do you have the right to sue him? I dont think so. If you can, then THAT would be warping the legal system.