Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Metro Manila led a dispersal defense drill in Mendiola today to prepare their ranks for a march rally to the venue of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the 12th East Asia Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.
The group condemned the violent dispersal of their protest yesterday near the US embassy in Manila hours before the arrival of US President Donald Trump in the country. The also criticized the security preparations for ASEAN Summit and Trump visit as an ‘overkill.’
The Philippine government deployed 59,276 elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for its security plan for the said international gatherings.
It also allotted a sum of P15.5 billion for the summit.
Bayan Metro Manila and its affiliated organizations said in a statement, “while the government spent lavishly for Trump and other foreign dignitaries and ASEAN leaders, President Duterte failed to secure the economic and holistic stability of poor Filipinos.”
Protesters also clarified that the dispersal drill was held to defend their ranks against possible violence that would come from state forces.
Bayan Metro Manila said, “For the longest time, the infliction of violence did not come from the ranks of the protesters. We will remain keen and vigilant in our assertion of our right to free assembly and to hold protest near the PICC.”
The groups would march along Taft Avenue today as they aimed to hold their anti-Trump and anti-ASEAN protest where they can possibly get closest to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
After the protest in Pasay City, various militant groups will return to Mendiola for an overnight vigil.
Effigy and gang of 5
Protesters would also parade and burn a 12-feet effigy of Trump, dubbed as ‘Fascist Spinner’, which was constructed by visual artists of UGATLahi Artists Collective.
The Trump effigy had four arms that forms a swastika, a symbol of the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. It showed the traits of Trump being a warmonger, human rights violator and plunderer. An image of President Duterte hiding under the skirt of Trump depicted the Philippine leader as a US puppet and lapdog.
“Nothing can stop our giant protest today, not even the PNP and AFP,” said Bayan Metro Manila in their statement.
They added, “Thousands of Filipinos will march today to register our strongest opposition and rage to the US-Duterte regime that causes poor Filipinos extreme economic hardships, poverty, hunger and homelessness through their anti-poor neoliberal policies and globalization schemes.”
The groups would also burn images of the ‘Gang of 5,’ which comprised heads of states of US, China, Russia, Australia and Japan. The heads of states depicted Donald Trump, Li Keqiang, Vladimir Putin, Malcolm Turnbull and Shinzo Abe with their war and defense equipment that they brought to the Philippines.
Duterte had allowed warships of these countries to dock in the Philippines to show he is open to all, his own take to his most-oft declaration of pushing for an independent foreign policy. He has also acquired various defense equipment donations from these countries, such as the Raven drones from the US and Kalashnikov rifles from Russia.
Bayan Metro Manila, however, said that “Duterte’s convoluted independent foreign policy meant opening up to everyone, but in truth, it should at the very least uphold economic and territorial sovereignty.”
“Duterte and past Philippine presidents allowed the plunder of our resources by foreign nations. Now he allowed them on our shores, seas and land and in military operations in Marawi and then what else? The people should not think to give these leaders a warm welcome. What they bring us is war, plunder and human rights violations,” said Bayan Metro Manila in its statement.