As Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continued his four-day visit to China this week, a political demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Manila — held by Filipinos supportive of Duterte’s promise to break his country’s dependence on the West — turned violent on Wednesday, with Filipino police actually ramming into and running over protesters as they attempted to disperse the crowd.
“There was absolutely no justification (for the police violence),” one of the protest leaders said. “Even as the president avowed an independent foreign policy, Philippine police forces still act as running dogs of the US.”
The demonstration was led by an affiliation of activists, mostly from indigenous Filipino peoples seeking an end to Western imperialistic control of their country. Such groups have held similar demonstrations in front of the U.S. embassy in the past, nearly all of which remained peaceful.
There was an altogether different vibe to Wednesday’s rally, however, with demonstrators from the beginning hurling red paint, bottles, and rocks at police officers and destroying a U.S. government seal. Some called the police “puppies of imperialists” through loudspeakers.
Police initially doused the protesters with fire hoses, but the unruly crowd managed to overpower the cops, break through the police corridor, and proceed to write anti-U.S. slogans such as “US troops out now” on the embassy fence.
It was then that officers turned to more drastic measures, firing tear gas into the crowd of around 1,000 people and eventually driving a police van through the demonstration. In all, three protesters had to be taken to the hospital and over 20 wound up arrested by police.
Police say they had to resort to force to prevent the protesters from storming the embassy. “We had to disperse them. They started it,” Chief Inspector Arsenio Riparip told AFP. “They were trying to enter the embassy. We had to use tear gas. They overpowered our policemen.”
As to the use of the police van, Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde said:
“They weren’t really run over. The (protesters) were trying to flip over the patrol car. In the process, the driver extricated the patrol car and inadvertently hit some unruly protesters who sustained minor injuries.”
To the demonstrators, however, Wednesday’s events serve only to reinforce the notion of Filipino police as an extension of U.S. will. In a statement issued following the protest, a group representing indigenous Filipinos said:
“This protest serves to highlight the imperialist plunder, abuses, and continued domination of the United States in the country.”
In an article published Tuesday titled “The US Just Officially Lost the Philippines to China,” Anti-Media explained how President Duterte has just made it abundantly clear that the future of his country will unfold within the Chinese umbrella, not that of the U.S.-led West.
“It’s only China that can help us,” he told China’s state-run newspaper Xinhua.
And regardless of how the Filipino populace feels about its leader’s pivot toward China, it appears a great many citizens are more than happy to go along with his agenda to move away from the U.S.