Protest greets ASEAN Summit opening

Protest greets ASEAN Summit opening

Rallyists march along Lawton to Taft Avenue, Manila to protest the ASEAN Summit 2017 and the visit of US President Donald Trump in the country. BAYAN MUNA partylist Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — The opening ceremonies of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings Monday were greeted with a protest from militant groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

Groups protesting the visit of US President Donald Trump started gathering at Mendiola in Manila on the morning of November 13.

Present at the rally were Bayan Muna Rep. Kaloi Zarate, Satur Ocampo and Neri Colmenares. They would lead the march going to the Philippine International Convention Center.

The National Capital Region Police Office estimated that around 1,000 rallyists joined the protest.

The militant groups prepared a "fascist spinner" effigy of US President Donald Trump holding a gun, bag of money, nuclear bomb and backhoe.

In an earlier released statement, progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the effigy depicts the American leader "as the fascist, racist CEO of US imperialism."

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao, who led the protest on Sunday at the Liwasang Bonifacio said: "The Asean summit offers nothing but imperialist or neo-liberal programs and policies that will put poor Filipinos into a much-deeper poverty and misery, and we are already suffering from such and its consequences are exactly what we are objecting about."

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.

Last November 10, militant groups also picketed the US Embassy in Manila to protest the regional bloc's meeting and the visit of the US leader.

Trump arrived in the country at 5:45 p.m on Sunday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Duterte and Trump, known for the firebrand leadership, are expected to hold a bilateral meeting today at 11:50 a.m.

According to a senior White House official, the two leaders will talk about the renewal of the US-Philippines "alliance and reenergizing that alliance through a joint statement."

Also mentioned as a possible agenda in the meeting between the two presidents is the Philippines' counterterrorism efforts.

Before heading to the Manila, Trump told Vietnam President Tran Dai Quiang that he is "very good mediator and a very good arbitrator," pertaining to the maritime dispute among the Philippines, Vietnam and China.

Vietnam and the Philippines are two of the major claimants in the South China Sea. China claims almost the entire resource-rich region through its nine-dash line claim, which was invalidated by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano welcomed the US president's "generous offer."

The American leader will attend the 40th Anniversary of US-ASEAN relations during the summit today at 1:15 p.m.

He is expected to stay in the country until November 14.

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