Sixteen policemen have been disarmed and restricted to their quarters so they can be investigated over the deadly clash with residents who opposed a demolition of houses and establishments in Paranaque City Monday morning, a police spokeswoman said.

The 16, all members of the Paranaque City Police’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit, are being probed by the Metro Manila Southern Police District’s (SPD) investigation and detection management division, SPD spokeswoman Supt. Jenny Tecson said.

“The investigators will try to determine what really transpired and what prompted or provoked the SWAT team to open fire,” Tecson said in a text message Monday night.

“Should these personnel be found negligent later on, appropriate charges will be filed against them, administratively and criminally,” she said.

One of the residents who opposed the demolition, identified as Arnel Leonor, 20, succumbed to a head injury in the middle of the clash while 10 policemen and five residents were injured, Tecson said.

Thirty-three people, comprised of 23 men, two men, and eight minors, were arrested for allegedly participating in the clash along Sucat Road.

The fighting started around 10 a.m. while Sheriff Alejandro Abrematea, of the Paranaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 195, was discussing with residents how the demolition will be implemented at Silverio Compound.

About 1,500 “militants” assaulted the ranks of policemen located 300 meters away, throwing stones, molotov bombs, pillboxes, and bottles. Some even tried to burn police cars and firetrucks, Tecson said in an earlier message.

Several minutes into the attack, the policemen released tear gas and charged back, until they recovered the protester-occupied section of Sucat Road around 11:30 a.m.

“Our CDM (civil disturbance management) personnel were all unarmed and were reminded to strictly adhere to the policy of maximum tolerance and respect the rights of all quarters,” Tecson said.

“Lives and properties of not only policemen, but also civilians including commuters, were put at risk and the CDM needed to restore order immediately especially after molotovs starting landing and exploding near a gasoline station,” she added. (John Roson)

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