Protestors in Bacolod City yesterday slammed the visit of President Donald Trump to the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte for“ abandoning his campaign promise for an independent foreign policy, only to become a puppet” of the United States.
Trump, who left the country yesterday afternoon, said strong US ties with the Philippines were vital for military reasons, ignoring allegations of mass murder under Duterte'sadministration.
About 100 members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Negros and its allied organizations marched down Araneta Street and gathered in front of the Fountain of Justice in Bacolod City where they torched a tarpaulin with a photo of Trump holding Duterte by a leash.
Michael dela Concepcion, Bayan Negros secretary general, said Trump was not welcome in the Philippines.
The United States, through Trump, is instigating conflict in the Korean Peninsula and is dragging the Philippines in to support its war, he said.
They condemn the PhilippinesVisiting Forces Agreement and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States that will not benefit the Filipino people, he said.
This has not helped the Filipino people or addressed the territorial aggression of China, he added.
He also slammed the Philippine governmentfor spending P15.5 billion for the hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in the country that could have been better used for much needed services for the poor, and free college education.
The government is giving priority to the ASEAN summit foreign delegates over the needs of the Filipino people, de la Concepcion said.
De la Concepcion also slammed Trump's attending the ASEAN summit, which the United States is not even a part of.
Trump yesterday said he had repaired relations with the Philippines, which soured last year when the administration of former president Barack Obama criticized Duterte's drug war.
"The (Philippines') relationship with the past administration was horrible, to use a nice word. I would say horrible is putting it mildly," Trump told reporters.
"And now we have a very, very strong relationship with the Philippines, which is really important: less so for trade, in this case, than for military purposes."
Duterte vowed during last year's election campaign that he would wage an unprecedented crackdown to eradicate illegal drugs in society, which he said would claim up to 100,000 lives.
Since Duterte took office 16 months ago thousands of people have been killed, with rights groups accusing police and hired assassins of mass murder.
Then-president Obama urged Duterte to follow the rule of law in prosecuting the drug war.
Duterte responded by branding Obama a "son of a whore" and using the controversy as a reason for building closer ties with China and Russia.
The Philippines, a former American colony, had oncebeen the United States' most important allies in Asia, and the nations remain bound by a mutual defense pact.
Rights groups had called on Trump to voice concerns about the drug war in Manila, which was his last stop on a 12-day Asian tour.
Trump instead appeared in a range of events on the sidelines of summits involving leaders from 19 nations in which he and Duterte clearly enjoyed each others' company.
"We've had a great relationship. This has been very successful," Trump told Duterte in brief opening remarks at their official meeting on Monday.
"I've really enjoyed being here."
Trump then laughed as Duterte called the foreign and local media in the room "spies".
Duterte's spokesman later said Trump did not bring up any human rights concerns in the meeting, which lasted about 40 minutes.
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said human rights were raised, although "briefly".
Duterte and Trump also sat next to each other at a pre-summit banquet on Sunday, during which they smiled, chatted and clinked champagne glasses.
Duterte sang a Filipino love song at the dinner, saying light-heartedly that he did so on the orders of the US president.*CPG/AFP
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