Activists line up on streets as Kamala Harris visits

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activists line up on streets as kamala harris visits

Progressive groups organized a demonstration in response to the historic visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris to the Philippines.

According to activists, the second-highest ranking US diplomat is “not welcome” in the country.

On Monday, November 21, Harris will meet with a limited number of activists and human rights organisations to address the human rights situation and democracy in the Philippines. The US embassy in Manila has yet to offer information regarding the aforementioned event.

Groups organized by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) led the march in Morayta, Manila on Monday morning. However, officers of the Philippine National Police prevented them from leaving the area.

The progressive organizations then attempted to circumvent a police blockade by taking the opposite way, but they were prevented from doing so. The gangs continued to search for alternative methods to breach the roadblock, but the police pursued them.

They eventually compromised and staged the event on Recto Avenue. The numerous groups’ placards demanded the withdrawal of the United States’ military presence and military aid in the Philippines.

In addition, activist groups hung a mural depicting Harris carrying bombs and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The picture also has the inscription “Harris Imperialist.”

Harris landed in the Philippines on Sunday, marking her first visit as vice president of the United States. The purpose of the tour is to develop economic and security ties between the United States and the Philippines as part of President Joe Biden’s attempts to strengthen US connections with nations in the Indo-Pacific Region.

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Raymond Palatino, a BAYAN member and former Kabataan congressman, was among the protest leaders. According to him, Harris’ visit is detrimental since it will increase US military funding to the Philippines.

“Na ang pagpunta ni Kamala Harris sa Pilipinas ay magdadala ng panganib sa bayan. Dahil ang kanyang agenda rito, hindi kapayapaan, hindi kaunlaran para sa Pilipinas kundi dagdag na base militar ng mga ‘Kano; dagdag na ayuda para sa militar, mga pondo na gagamitin sa mga korapsyon, pondo na gagamitin bilang kagamitang pandigma laban sa mamamayang Pilipino,” Palatino added.

(Translation: The Philippines will suffer as a result of Kamala Harris’ visit. Because her aim here is not peace nor the development of the Philippines, but rather greater US military bases; additional help for the military (including cash that will be used for corruption and funds for war weaponry that will be used against Filipinos); and additional US military aid.)

Former Gabriela lawmaker Liza Maza, who was also present at the demonstration, stated that Harris intended to utilize the Philippines in the US’s fight with China.

“At alam naman natin na napakatindi ang away niyan (US) ngayon sa Tsina at kaya niya ginagawa ito ay dahil nga para i-contend ang China. Kaya tayo ay isinusuong sa giyera ng Estados Unidos laban sa Tsina. Gano’n ang projection nila. Kaya tayo, bilang mga peace-loving people dapat hil na tutulan natin ang agendang ito ng US,” former Gabriela senator Liza Maza said.

(Translation: And as we are aware, the United States has a significant problem with China, Harris traveled to the Philippines to confront China. The United States forces the Philippines to go to war with China. That is their assumption. Therefore, as peace-loving individuals, we should reject this US objective.)

Various progressive organizations have called for the abolition of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which bind the Philippines’ military ties to the United States, for years.

Standard U.S. support includes anti-terrorism equipment. The national police also receives crisis response equipment from the United States. Between 2016 and 2019, the United States was able to provide the Philippines with $267 million in foreign military financing for the purchase of defense assets.

The Philippines also receives the most military aid from the United States in the entire Indo-Pacific area. Since 2015, the US embassy reports that the government has received P48.6 billion in military aid from the US.

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