PHILIPPINES: 60,000 'welcome' Bush

Issue 

BY NORM DIXON

MANILA — At least 50,000 people mobilised across the Philippines on October 18 as US President George Bush, arrived for an eight-hour visit.

At least 10,000 people jammed the main thoroughfare leading to the House of Representatives in Manila, where Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. Hundreds of US flags were burned.

In nearby Quezon City, 20,000 gathered and marched to central Manila for a "People's dinner", to counter the official state dinner for Bush. In other parts of the Philippines, more than 30,000 demonstrated.

The mobilisations where a great success considering the deployment of thousands of military and police personnel who had been ordered to thwart the actions. Several urban poor communities were demolished in order to "beautify" Manila for Bush's visit, displacing thousands of poor people.

The Justice Not War Coalition stated that "Filipinos are one with other peoples of the world in confronting Bush" in opposition to the continuing US-led war against the people of Iraq.

Seven members of Congress — Sanlakas representative JV Baustista, Partido ng Manggagawa representative Renato Magtubo, Akbayan representatives Mario Aguja and Etta Rosales and Bayan Muna representatives Satur Ocampo, Crispin Beltran and Liza Maza — protested by walking out of the chamber just before Bush began his speech. Baustista unfurled a banner, which read: "Mr Bush, stop your wars!".

The MPs said they hoped their protest would prod parliamentarians in other countries to make a similar stand when Bush stands before them to justify the carnage of his illegal "war on terror". Earlier, they distributed blue and white peace ribbons to their colleagues.

From Green Left Weekly, October 22, 2003.
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