Progressives assert right to protest near US embassy to condemn EDCA, Obama visit

April 29, 2014

For the second straight day, thousands of members of progressive groups took to the streets to protest the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and US Pres. Barack Obama’s state visit to the country.

They attempted to protest in front of the US embassy in Roxas Boulevard, Manila but were blocked by hundreds of policemen who used shields and sticks and water cannons to push back the protesters.

“Aquino has tried to make it appear that the US is bringing back its military bases into the Philipines in order to help the country defend our territory from China’s incursions, but Obama did not make any statement to that effect,” said labor leader Elmer Labog, chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU, May First Movement). Labog noted that Obama’s statements on the Philippine territorial dispute with China “belie Aquino’s propaganda for EDCA.”

On Monday, April 28, Obama was noncommittal when reporters asked him if the US armed forces–whose presence in the Philippines will increase after EDCA’s signing–will defend the Philippines if attacked by China.

“So what did we get from the Obama visit? Not much it seems. As expected, no commitment, no assurance. Meanwhile, Obama goes home with a new military agreement that would allow more US forces to rotate in the Philippines. Such is the tragedy of neo-colonial relations,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance).

Bayan, KMU and other sectoral and progressive organizations have been protesting against negotiations between US and the Philippines for a new military pact that will significantly increase US military presence in the country. The groups maintained that such an increase in US military presence will only exacerbate the tensions between the Philippines and China, who are engaged in a much-publicized territorial dispute in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In the more than 60 years since the signing of the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty, the US armed forces have only made Philippine military more dependent on military aid, according to Reyes.

The groups also said that EDCA will only worsen the Philippines’ “neocolonial mendicancy” to the US.

(See also: The previous day’s text and photos of the protest action against the Obama visit.)

Some photos of the protest action near the US embassy in Manila:

Thousands of protesters marched from Liwasang Bonifacio to Kalaw Avenue to protest US Pres. Barack Obama's state visit in the Philippines and the signing of a new military pact between the Philippines and the US. <strong>KR Guda</strong>

Thousands of protesters march from Liwasang Bonifacio to Kalaw Avenue to protest US Pres. Barack Obama’s state visit in the Philippines and the signing of a new military pact between the Philippines and the US. KR Guda

The march was led by activist leaders, including former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan and theater artist and activist Monique Wilson, among others. <strong>KR Guda</strong>

The march is led by activist leaders, including former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan and theater artist and activist Monique Wilson, among others. KR Guda

The protesters stand their ground after cops begin pushing them back. <strong>Darius Galang</strong>

The protesters stand their ground after cops begin pushing them back. Darius Galang

Before they approached Roxas Boulevard, police men blocked Kalaw and began pushing the protesters back, beating them with sticks and using two water cannons from fire trucks to try to disperse the crowd. <strong>Boy Bagwis</strong>

Before they approach Roxas Boulevard, police men block their path and begin pushing the protesters back, beating them with sticks and using two water cannons from fire trucks to try to disperse the crowd. Boy Bagwis

A protester uses his placard to shield against the water from the police's fire trucks. <strong>KR Guda</strong>

A protester uses his placard to shield against the water from the police’s fire trucks. KR Guda

The activists assert their right to protest in front of the US embassy, despite police attempts to disperse them. <strong>KR Guda</strong>

The activists assert their right to protest in front of the US embassy, despite police attempts to disperse them. KR Guda

Activist leaders led by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate rip apart a US flag in protest of "US imperialist plunder and war" in the Philippines. <strong>Boy Bagwis</strong>

Activist leaders led by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate rip apart a US flag in protest of “US imperialist plunder and war” in the Philippines. Boy Bagwis