Monday, April 16, 2012
Philippines: Youth groups protest joint U.S. Philippine military exercises
Members of several student groups including the League of Filipino Students and the National Union of Students of the Philippines staged a rally before 6 AM Monday at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. They caught security guards by surprise.
The guards simply looked on as they were outnumbered by the approximately fifty youth involved. The group was protesting the Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) joint military exercises between Philippine and U.S. troops. The exercises were set to begin just hours after the demonstration.
The group claimed the exercises were simply a front for the establishment of new U.S. bases in the Philippines. At present there are no bases but there are U.S. troops who help train Philippine soldiers especially in anti-terrorism methods. Some claim that they are indirectly involved at the least in actual operations against some militant groups.
By the time police arrived on the scene the students had already splashed blue and red paint on the seal of the embassy on the main gate. They burned a U.S. flag and wrote: "U.S. troops out now" on the walls,
No arrests were made as the police were very much outnumbered and the protesters simply walked away. Thousands of U.S. and Filipino troops take part in the exercises.
The Philippine government seems anxious to cooperate with the U.S.extension of its military presence in the country in order to counter Chinese influence in South East Asia. Both China and the Philippines claim ownership of the Spratly Islands an area with oil resources under the sea. For more see this article.