Clinton’s Manila visit met with protests
Various protests were held by different groups as US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visited Manila last Novermber 15-16, including a “paintbomb ambush” which effectively blocked her convoy and a heckling protest in front of her in a meet and greet forum.
Clinton came to Manila to observe the 60th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the “mother treaty” of other agreements such as the Military Assistance Pact, the Military Bases Agreement and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
She also held talks with the government of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and signed a pact which brought the Philippines in an initaitive called Partnership for Growth.
Protests were already awaiting Clinton as she arrived. Groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) held a rally in front of US embassy in Manila to call for the junking of the MDT and the VFA. Youth groups also vowed to hold “hounding protests” to express disgust over continuing US intervention.
Bayan believes the visit will perpetuate the 60 years of “deception” and “lopsided relations” under the MDT, which continues to be invoked to justify continuing US intervention in the country.
“There are no benefits from this Cold War relic. In the last 40 years, the MDT was used to justify US military bases in the Philippines, as well as Philippine involvement in US conflicts abroad. To this day, the MDT is being wrongly used to justify the Visiting Forces Agreement even if the MDT pre-dates the VFA by 48 years,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
Reyes said that contrary to claims that the MDT has modernized out armed forces, the US has given us military “junk” while making us dependent on the US. He said that the US have made us “weak” and “unable to stand on our own.”
He also pointed to Wikileaks cables exposing Sec. Clinton’s order to US diplomats to spy on UN officials and US embassy violation of Philippine’s sovereignty as furhter proof of “lopsided relations.”
Like Clinton’s visit last year, she apparently wanted to end her visit with an image boosting media event, but instead, she was welcomed with angry protests.
At around 2:30 in the afternoon, about 50-60 youth activists from Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students blocked and trapped Clinton’s convoy along Finance Road as it left from Malacanang to a media forum at the National Museum.
The Clinton convoy was swarmed and red paint was thrown on the cars. The main body of the convoy was forced to to fall back and take a different route towards its destination.
“This is for the victims of US wars around the world. Clinton is not welcome in the Philippines. She should go home, bring the US troops and the junk economic and military treaties with her,” said one of the protesters.
In the forum, dubbed “US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Conversation in Manila,” Philippine Collegian Editor-In-Chief and student leader Marjohara ‘Marjo’ Tucay disrupted the forum by standing up and raising a banned saying “JUNK VFA! JUNK MDT! U.S. TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES.”
Tucay shouted “There is nothing mutual in the Mutual Defense Treaty! Junk MDT! Junk VFA! Down with US Imperialism! Junk VFA!” as he was escorted out of the venue.
Later, in an interview with PinoyWeekly, Tucay said that as a journalist, he has written and known many things about the VFA and the MDT, and has tried to make readers understand the issues. But he saw the forum as an opportunity to act and raise his voice.
..kung magkakaroon tayo ng pagkakataong iparinig mismo sa isa sa mga pinakamataas na opisyal ng pinakamakapangyarihang bansa ang ating panawagan, hindi ba natin iyon susunggaban? Tayong mga kritiko ng relasyong RP-US ay laging nasa laylayan ng politikal na espasyo. At kung may pagkakataon para mabaliktad ang sitwasyong iyon, kahit mag-isa lang, gagawin natin. Sa diwa ng Occupy Movement, nararapat nating mabawi ang mga espasyong hindi pinapayagang mapasaatin.
Tucay believes that US-RP relations is “fundamental” to understanding the roots of crisis in the Philippines. “Dapat lang marinig ng mga nasa kapangyarihan sa US ang tunay nating sentimyento ukol dito,” he said.
Asked what he thinks of those praising Clinton, he said we should not look up to those in power “but does nothing to change the system”:
Hindi natin dapat hangaan iyong mga nasa posisyon ng kapangyarihan ngunit walang ginagawa upang baguhin ang sistema. Oo, magaling sila — magaling sa pagpapanatili ng kasalukuyang sistema. Kung hahangaan natin ang mga gaya nila, para na rin nating hinangaan ang represibong sistemang kinakatawan nila.
“More than just reporting on the events, a journalist has to make a stand based on a critical analysis of the issue. A measure of a good journalist is when he or she knows all sides well enough to form a sound judgment,” said a statement released by CEGP.