Photos of a police officer who broke into tears while dispersing protesters seemed to have touched even the foreigner who was seen shouting at him in one of the shots.
Dutch national Thomas van Beersum’s open letter however showed that his feelings remain mixed over PO1 Joselito Sevilla, dubbed the “crying cop” in photos now making rounds online.
“I write this letter because unlike the other police at the protest, you did not act violently like your mates and you did not attack us,” the letter posted on Facebook said.
“You did what you thought was right,” van Beersum said, adding that Sevilla’s decision not to act on orders to disperse push on against protesters was “a noble act.”
This, as he stressed that he was part of the group of “peaceful protesters in the front who were beaten with police truncheons” near the Batasang Pambansa Monday, July 22.
Van Beersum, who is in the country for the Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, joined protesters who scored President Benigno Aquino III as he delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address.
“We did not carry any weapons, we only had our banners and flags,” van Beersum said, adding that 41 activists were injured, many with head wounds and contusions.
“After that initial confrontation I got angry and started shouting at the police officer standing in front of me. That police officer happened to be you,” he noted.
Van Beersum recalled telling Sevilla even as he became emotional: “You are the ones that are hurting us! You started this conflict! Why are you doing this?”
During a second wave of alleged police aggression, van Beersum said Sevilla no longer joined. “You stayed at the same place, crying behind your shield.”
While lauding Sevilla for resisting the “repressive character of the police,” van Beersum however urged the officer to “take responsibility.”
“[I]f you really want to serve the people, then you should know that when you take orders, you have a choice and a moral responsibility to refuse to carry out any type of anti-people acts,” van Beersum said.
The Dutch national in his letter outlined human rights violations he claimed had been committed under the Aquino government, citing stories he heard from the masses.
“I am tired of the extrajudicial killings, the illegal arrests, the forced demolitions, the land-grabbings, the puppetry to U.S.-imperialism, tired of all the oppression and exploitation of the workers, farmers, students, women, indigenous, urban poor, LGBTs, and all other oppressed groups,” he said.
“You alone are responsible for your actions,” van Beersum reminded Sevilla, who he said was nowhere to be found when he tried to look for him after the clash.
Ending his letter, the Dutch national invited Sevilla to join their ranks and show rage “against the crimes of the state and against the violent forces.”
“I hope to see you again next year, during the SONA protest of 2014. But then I hope that we will be on the same side,” van Beersum said.