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SWAT team assaults radio station personnel in Philippines

Members of a police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team in pursuit of alleged gang members entered a radio station in Iloilo City and assaulted station personnel on 25 August 2013. Iloilo City is some 600 kilometers south of Manila.

SWAT team members assaulted the personnel of Aksyon Radyo Iloilo radio station after alleged gang members entered the building where the radio station is located at 1:00 AM, Sunday 25 August.

The SWAT team members were caught on closed-circuit TV (CCTV) disarming and kicking one of the building's security guards. They were also caught pointing their guns at radio station personnel and forcing them to take their clothes off.

Aksyon anchor Jun Capulot said on the station website that they heard gunshots at around one in the morning and saw a group of men running from a nearby complex followed by armed policemen. The group on the run went to the floor of the building where the radio station is located.

The group asked radio personnel to help bring a wounded companion to the hospital, Capulot said. Capulot suspected that the seven men were crime suspects. He had heard from police radio that the group was dangerous, so he told the station security guards to go inside the station and other station personnel to close the door and not let the men enter. The radio anchor called police, but instead of responding immediately, the police waited for the police SWAT team to respond.

The alleged gang members were arrested immediately after the SWAT team arrived, but the authorities also entered the station.

Radio station manager John Paul Tia told CMFR in a telephone interview last 28 August 2013 that the assault was not related to any of the issues addressed in any of the station's programs.

According to an update on Aksyon Radyo's website, Iloilo City Police Office Director senior superintendent Ruperto Floro personally went to the radio station to watch the CCTV footage. Floro apologized for the SWAT team's behavior. He ordered the disarming and restriction to barracks of eight members of the responding SWAT team.

In another update, Floro was quoted as saying that what the SWAT team did was standard operating procedure during tactical searches. But he added that the police will still investigate the incident.

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