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Activists picket US Embassy ahead of Trump visit

Protesters, who have been camping out near the Presidential Palace for days, set on fire to a mock US flag during a rally to protest a planned visit to the country of US President Donald Trump Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. Trump is currently on a visit to Asia that includes the Philippines for the ASEAN leaders' summit and related summits with its dialogue partners. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — Activist groups picketed the US Embassy in Manila on Friday to protest the 31st Association of South East Asian Nations Summit and US President Donald Trump's planned visit to the country. 

The demonstrators called for a "ban" on Trump , the “US-President Rodrigo Duterte fascist regime” and the so-called neoliberal policies that they say the US is pushing in the Philippines.

Broadly, neoliberalism is an economic model that emphasizes free markets. Its critics believe this approach contributes to a decrease in public services and an increase in privatization. Those opposed to neoliberal policies say the model focuses on profits and not on the people's welfare and development.

According to Director Oscar Albayalde, National Capital Region Police Office chief, around 250 demonstrators were at the US Embassy protest.

READ: No progress in cases vs cops a year after violent embassy dispersal

Pamalakaya Pilipinas, a federation of fisherfolk, said Trump’s visit to Manila would further “imperialist aggression and consolidate the decades-old colonial rule of the United States to the Philippines.”

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Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela party-list), who spoke at the rally, stressed that Filipinos should expect “crass” policies from the “sexist and bigoted” US president.

Protesters clashed with police outside the US Embassy although nobody was seriously hurt.  

The Manila city government and NCRPO previously said they would allow rallies before and during the ASEAN Summit but only at the Plaza Miranda in Quiapo or the Liwasang Bonifacio, where protests are often held.

“Definitely, we will not allow these militant groups to go near the vicinities of the ASEAN Summit sites, including the US Embassy and the hotels along Roxas Boulevard and adjacent areas where the delegates are staying,” Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, a former president, said in a statement.

READGroups to hold protests against Trump

According to group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Makabayan), they will burn an effigy of Trump depicting “the US leader as the fascist, racist CEO of US imperialism on November 13.”

Bayan and other national democrat organizations blame imperialism, or particularly the US, for poverty and inequality in the Philippines. They believe the US dictates policies on the Philippine government and that those policies favor American interests. 

The government has deployed at least 60,000 police officers to secure the summit. Part of the contingent are elements of the police Crowd Disturbance Management unit, who will deal protesters.

A demonstration was also held at Trump Tower in Makati on Thursday.

Trump is slated to arrive in the Philippines on November 12, 2017 to attend the 50th anniversary of ASEAN and the ASEAN-US Summit the following day. He will extend his stay in the country to attend the East Asia Summit on November 14.

Ahead of his visit, US Reps. James McGoven (Democratic, Massachusetts) and Randy Hultgren (Republican, Illinois) urged Trump to tell Duterte about Washington’s “profound concern” over reports of drug-related killings in the Philippines.

But Duterte, on Wednesday before departing to Vietnam for the APEC summit, said he wants Trump to lay off the topic of human rights during their first bilateral meeting.

“Lay off, that is not your business. That is my business. I take care of my country,” Duterte said.

Both presidents are in Da Nang, Vietnam for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Meeting. 

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