On December 5, 2013, Rasti Delizo, the Political Affairs Coordinator of Sanlakas, a broad multi-sectoral organization, together with members of the Free Burma Coalition (FBC) held a peaceful protest action in front of the main gate of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) building at 2330 Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City, Metro Manila. Delizo acted as the rally’s lead negotiator representing the civil society group.
The FBC organized the mass action in response to the three-day state visit of Burma’s President Thein Sein in Manila from December 4 to 6. Thein Sein visited Manila upon the invitation of President Benigno S. (Noynoy) Aquino III. The rally’s highlight was the formal submission of an official FBC statement addressed to Thein Sein. Specifically, the FBC’s intention was to further highlight Burma’s continuing human rights violations by the country’s military-dominated regime. Also, the FBC aimed to urge the Philippine Government to push for the immediate release of all of Burma’s political prisoners, and to urgently advance a much-needed democratization agenda within Southeast Asia.
Toward the end of the rally, at 11:35 a.m., Delizo happened to be talking with Senior Inspector Charito Estrada. Sr. Insp. Estrada is the Precinct Commander of the Pasay City Police Station’s PCP-1/with operational jurisdiction over the DFA’s premises; and Mr. Felix De Leon, Foreign Service Staff Officer detailed with the DFA’s Office of Intelligence and Security Services/OISS. Delizo directly negotiated with Sr. Insp. Estrada Estrada and gave him an assurance that the rally would be carried out in a peaceful manner. De Leon of the DFA-OISS also joined the conversation as an observer.
Delizo was explaining to Sr. Insp. Estrada the rally’s peaceful nature, as well as its political intentions and democratic aims. Unfortunately, however, Sr. Insp. Estrada reacted badly to Delizo’s assertions. Wearing the full uniform of a PNP Sr. Inspector and on official duty at the time, Estrada told Delizo, in the presence of Mr. De Leon of the DFA, said: “If your group misbehaves, then we will kill you.” He first pointed his finger in the direction of rally, then shifted his finger and pointed directly to Delizo’s face.
In response to Estrada’s threat, Delizo shouted at him and denounced Estrada’s behavior and conduct as unbecoming of a police officer. Delizo told him that he could inform some of Estrada’s officers of his arrogant behavior. At this point, Estrada pleaded with him not to report the incident.
Three of Estrada’s subordinates who accompanied him to the rally site began to feel uncomfortable with the situation themselves. Their conversation between Delizo and Estrada had not yet ended, but the said policemen began to slowly withdraw toward their mobile patrol car parked roughly thirty meters away.