Thousands of Filipinos took to the streets to protest the five-day visit of US President Donald Trump. One of the largest protests was the November 13 rally and march by Laban ng Masa, a new coalition of trade unionists, community activists, urban poor organisations, feminists and socialists formed in September to oppose the authoritarian and violent policies of President Rodrigo Duterte. Laban ng Masa released the statement below in response to Trump's visit.
Statement on the Trump Visit to the Philippines
Donald Trump, Go Home!
Condemn Trump’s Endorsement of Duterte’s Bloody War on Drugs!
End Superpower Hegemony and Competition in East Asia!
Donald Trump’s visit to the Philippines is the climax of a tour of East Asia that has brought his unwelcome presence to Japan, South Korea, China, and Vietnam.
Trump’s trail through the region has been marked by a continuing stream of threats against North Korea, whose “total destruction” he threatened a few weeks ago. His threats have been accompanied by the deployment of three US aircraft carriers to the waters off the Korean peninsula and an aggressive push to sell advanced weapons systems to US client states Japan and South Korea.
Trump’s trip is also intended to counter the growing influence of China in the region. His stopover in Beijing has a dual purpose: to convey the message that the US plans to maintain its military presence in the region while at the same time seeking a deal whereby the two superpowers can jointly dominate the region. Trump prides himself as the supreme practitioner of the “art of the deal” and China’s Xi Jin Ping is open to a superpower deal. Among the chips in this high-stakes game of hegemons are the interests of small countries like the Philippines.
In the Philippines, Trump will endorse Duterte’s war on drugs, which he already praised a few months ago when he invited the Philippine president to visit the United States. We can be sure that Duterte will use this endorsement to counter the rising opposition of Filipinos to a bloody campaign that has already taken some 13,000 lives, most of them through extra-judicial execution.
For his part, Duterte is likely to assure Trump that, despite his anti-US rhetoric, he has no intention of tearing up the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement based on the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty that are the pillars of the US military presence in this country. The hypocrisy of Duterte’s stand has been exposed by the fact that, as the US Ambassador has confirmed, Washington’s military and intelligence support has played an important part in the administration’s war against the Maute Group in Marawi.
With Trump and Xi Jin Ping present at the East Asian Summit, the aim of Duterte’s diplomatic game is to assure the US that Manila will continue to host its military presence while inviting a stronger Chinese economic presence. This so-called “balancing” of the two superpowers is most likely to result in the Philippines’ greater subordination to both.
In an interview with CNN, Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said that Trump and Duterte are so much alike in the substance and style of their politics. This is certainly true. Both Duterte and Trump are braggarts. Both love to resort to threats. Both have justified violent acts. Both have acted and talked in ways that insult women. Both have invented and propagated fake news. These two rogue leaders deserve each other.
Let us make it clear to Trump, the warmonger, that his presence is not welcome to the peoples of East and Southeast Asia.
Let us give Trump the treatment he deserves, and that is to tell him: Trump, go home. Stop saber-rattling. Stop trampling on Philippine sovereignty.
Let us oppose his efforts to legitimize and prettify his junior partner Duterte’s killing of thousands of Filipinos in the name of the “war on drugs.”
We demand the termination of the US-Philippine Voluntary Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
November 13, 2017