MANILA, Philippines – Protesters clashed Friday with police near the U.S. Embassy in Manila, where about 100 of them marched to mark Philippine-American Friendship day with a call to junk a new defense pact allowing thousands of U.S. troops to be temporarily based in the country.
A policeman and a protester were slightly hurt as demonstrators pushed their way toward the embassy and riot police shoved them back with truncheons and shields.
Vencer Crisostomo, chairman of Anakbayan youth group, said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed by the two allies in April was an "unequal agreement" that is a "sellout of our national sovereignty."
He said the arrangement will not act as a deterrent but will instead worsen tensions between China and the Philippines, which are embroiled in a territorial row in the South China Sea. "It's not really about friendship," said former Congressman Teddy Casino of the leftist New Patriotic Alliance. "It's about exploitation, it's about a neocolonial relationship." Casino urged the Supreme Court to declare the defense pact unconstitutional.