We wrote about the crying Filipino cop, Joselito Sevilla, here. When photos of the crying policeman became viral online, there are people demanding that the foreigner who berated PO1 Sevilla be named. Now we have it!
What is the name of the foreigner who participated the street rally during Pres. Aquino’s SONA? He is Thomas van Beersum. He is a Dutch national who is in the Philippines to participate in the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace.
Because of some people condemning Van Beersum for his actions, the Dutch national posted an open letter on his Facebook page.
To Policeman Joselito Sevilla,
I was the foreign protester who was actively denouncing to you the violence used against the activists yesterday at the SONA Protest. I was one of the 41 injured activists in the protest. Many of the injured received head wounds and contusions, two of the injured were senior citizens. They were attacked simply because they exercised their constitutional right to assemble and protest.
I came to the Philippines as part of an International Solidarity Mission and as a delegate of the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines. I attended the SONA protest because I had been outraged by the human rights violations committed by the corrupt Aquino regime. I am tired of the extrajudicial killings, the illegal arrests, the forced demolitions, the land-grabbings, the puppetry to US-imperialism, tired of all the oppression and exploitation of the workers, farmers, students, women, indigenous, urban poor, LGBTs, and all other oppressed groups. I have integrated here in the Philippines with many different sectors to directly see the effects of the basic problems that the Filipino people face. I personally knew people like Willem Geertman, a Dutch community worker who moved to the Philippines, who was brutally murdered by this regime last July 3, 2012. Many of the protesters have many experiences with family members, friends, and acquaintances who have been murdered or tortured by this regime. They had every reason to demonstrate against the Aquino government.
It was by chance that I was facing you. Just before our encounter I was part of the group of peaceful protesters in the front who were beaten with police truncheons. We did not carry any weapons, we only had our banners and flags. 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. I continued to ask you why the police was beating and hurting us. Your response was flashing a peace sign while saying “relax, relax”. While you were doing this, a few metres away from us the police was again beating the activists. I started pointing at the attack and shouted “You are the ones that are hurting us! You started this conflict! Why are you doing this?”. At this point you started getting emotional and I responded by repeating again and again the question why they were doing this. During your crying you responded to me that you were only following orders. My initial reaction was that this was a legitimization of the violence and a way to absolve yourself of any complicity in the incident. “take responsibility” I repeated over and over.
Then there was a stand-off while negotiations with the police were taking place. We were told to wait for the results. However, even before the results of the negotiations were made known, the second wave of the dispersal started to happen. Our side stayed calm while your side started coming closer and closer. It was obvious that they wanted to start a commotion on our side, which would give them a reason to start attacking the activists with full force. Despite my rage, I remained nonviolent and even put my arms behind my back to show clearly who was the attacker and who was the target. The police started to push us away but I did not see you joining them. You stayed at the same place, crying behind your shield. I was wondering whether you did not attack us because you were overwhelmed of the situation, or if you had a genuine realization about who was causing this excessive use of repressive violence. I did not have long to think about this because I got taken to the back of the protest by comrades who were afraid that the police would be out to arrest me. I tried to look for you after the clashes to have a talk with you, but you were nowhere to be found.
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. You did what you thought was right. You were confronted with the repressive character of the police and did not follow the orders of your superiors. This is a noble act. Historically, the role of the police force is to suppress any type of resistance that has the potential to truly threaten the status quo. I hope you realize that when you follow orders that are detrimental to the people, you become complicit in the crimes that are carried out. If you are really genuine about resisting when it is right, if 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, because when you do choose to carry them out, you are complicit in the crimes that are carried out.
You alone are responsible for your actions. 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. Together against the crimes of the state and against the violent forces that exist purely to defend that state. Together in upholding the interests of the Filipino people.
Take your responsibility and join the people’s movement.
Thomas van Beersum
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Here are some negative comments from the Facebook posting:
Reno Reteracion: Thomas van Beersum you are not welcome in the Philippines! You are not a Filipino!!! you don’t have a right to join a protest against PH Govt. I hope our Police will find you and put to to jail!!! or better yet some hired killer will put you to your rightful place!!!
Ivie Larga: You are a complete MORON Mr. Thomas van Beersum …. Go to hell where you belong!!!
Harold Brian Geronimo: I can’t even understand why a foreigner has every right to participate in a political rally of a country where he doesn’t belong. Poor Dutch.
Tony Villarta: @ Adam Lee Demecillo you point being that he cared?. I dont think it that way, As he is a alien this state he is to abide by its law. BUt he behave otherwise, under such berating a police officer is never and will never be correct. I don’t even see any apology for his action but just pointing out hate to the current administration. To MR.Thomas van Beersum GTFO of our country
Others asked the government to have him deported.
Brady de Castro: Actually, with that photo Thomas Van Beersum can be criminally charged under Chapter 4, Title 3, Book II of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. He can also be charged and subjected to deportation proceedings. Those actions can be initiated through the filing of complaints by any interested persons or citizen.
Henry Gerard Z. Reynes: the right of freedom of speech you are referring to is exclusive to us Filipinos, not to interfering non-Filipinos who have no business marching in Filipino streets.
Marlene Cunanan Braganza: Get the fuck out of the Philippines. Aquino administration should deported you. I hope someone will put a bullet in your head. Keep on looking for it you will get it. You intimidated that police officer and you are nothing but a coward.
What Sec. 37 of the DEPORTATION OF ALIENS from the Philippines’ Immigration Law says:
(a) The following aliens shall be arrested upon the warrant of the Commissioner of Immigration or of any other officer designated by him for the purpose and deported upon the warrant of the Commissioner of Immigration after a determination by the Board of Commissioners of the existence of the ground for deportation as charged against the alien:
(8)Any alien who believes in, advises, advocates or teaches the overthrow by force and violence of the Government of the Philippines, or of constituted law and authority, or who disbelieves in or is opposed to organized government or who advises, advocates, or teaches the assault or assassination of public officials because of their office, or who advises, advocates, or teaches the unlawful destruction of property, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization entertaining, advocating or teaching such doctrines, or who in any manner whatsoever lends assistance, financial or otherwise, to the dissemination of such doctrines;
Others praised Beersum for his actions.
Edge Genciagan@edge_genciagan: His actions are justified in light of police brutality before him. Compassion transcends nationality
Christine Jessica Liwanag Gatchallan: Ang sabi ng ibang Noypi, “This foreigner has no business joining protests against our government.” Ba’t kabaliktaran unang pumasok sa isip ko? Na buti pa ‘tong Dutch na to, may pakialam sa gobyerno natin, eh mismong mga Pinoy wala ng pakialam. Buti pa nga si Kuya kahit pano may ginawa para sa Pilipinas, para sa mga Pilipino, pero mismong mga Pilipino nanonood lang.
Aj Jose: WHY DOES HE EVEN HAVE TO APOLOGIZE? The issue here is the deplorable treatment of the rallyists. Dapat nga mahiya pa kayo dahil daig pa kayo ni Sir Thomas. Nakilahok siya sa pakikipaglaban para sa karapatan ng mga masang Pilipino. Kayo ba, anong ginawa niyo? Hindi ito issue kung komunista ba siya kundi issue ng pagmamaltrato ng Pilipino sa kapwa niya Pilipino. Hindi ng umiyak o “minaltrato” na pulis kundi ang patuloy na pagpapahirap sa atin ng bulok na sistema ng gobyerno. At sa mga comment niyo, pinapakita niyo kung gaano nga kabuti ang budhi niyo’t gusto niyo siyang mamatay dahil lang ipinagtanggol niya ang mga karapatan ng sarili niyong mamamayan. Kayo ang self-righteous dito.
Horeb Eliot: my take: he shows his love for the Philippines in a very different and bold way…so bold that most of us fail to muster the courage of equal intensity for our feet to take us to the streets against oppression and corruption. Ingrata? Deport him? Dapat ideport yung mga Pinoy na apathetic. Pagsisipain palabas ng UP! Takte!
What is your take on this?