Militant groups protest Kamala Harris visit to PH
MANILA, Philippines — Various militant groups converged at the Morayta area in Manila, on Monday to protest the visit of United States Vice President Kamala Harris to the Philippines.
Harris, 58, arrived in Manila on Sunday night and met separately with President Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte the next morning.
In an advance fact-sheet sent to reporters, Harris’ office said she would initiate dialogues on energy, smart and ports development, as well as the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) that allows Philippine and American servicemen to pursue joint and combined military training.
Armed with placards that read ‘Kamala Not Welcome,’ activists from Bayan, Gabriela, the International League of People’s Struggles and the League of Filipino Students (LFS) condemned Harris’ trip which is aimed at further entrenching the United States’ dominion over the Philippines.
Mong Palatino, spokesperson for Bayan, denounced Washington’s move to secure its economic and foreign policy interests with Harris’ diplomatic activities in the country.
“Kamala is here to strengthen the US imperialist agenda in the Philippines,” Palatino said.
The protesters also denounced the government’s leniency toward foreign policies such as the Edca, which encourage military presence in the country.
Lloyd Manango, vice chairperson of LFS, said that Marcos’ ties with the United States and China only benefit these foreign countries.
“She is the closest friend of the United States and China and the No. 1 enemy of the Filipino people,” said Manango of Harris.
“Where will you find a President who allowed China’s territorial grab in the West Philippine Sea? Where will you find a President who allowed the United States to build military bases in our country?” he said.
According to a research network, Harris’ visit to the Philippines would only aggravate further the fragile human rights situation in the Philippines and escalate tensions in the Philippines and in the region.
On Monday, the Asia-Pacific Research Network (APRN), a group of research organizations focusing on development and geopolitics in the region, said Filipinos should be worried as this was not only a “calculated visit” to strengthen the United States’ position in the region, but also a “direct rehabilitation” of the Marcos government.
APRN chair Azra Sayeed noted that last month, US Congress approved $100 million in foreign military financing to the Philippines even amid the continued deterioration of the human rights situation in the country.
“It is really hard to believe that the [United States] and Harris are oblivious to the continuing rights violations by the Marcos government. Apparently, they are willing to turn a blind eye to these abuses for the sake of securing their interests in the country and the region,” Sayeed said.
In particular, Harris’ trip to Palawan province, an island at the edge of the West Philippine Sea, would “only escalate tensions and further threaten the peace and security in the Philippines and in the region,” Sayeed warned.
Local rights group Karapatan echoed APRN’s concerns, and warned that Harris’ visit “would further drive the US government’s complicity in the worsening violations of human rights in the country.”
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