Police van rams into anti-US protesters in Philippine capital, Manila

October 19, 2016 9:30 pm

Protesters lie on the ground after being hit by a police van during a rally in front of the US embassy in , the Philippines, October 19, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

A police van has plowed through a crowd of anti-US protesters outside the American embassy in the Philippine capital, Manila.
Video footage released by local media showed the van knocking some protesters aside and catching others under the wheels during the anti-US rally on Wednesday.
The footage showed protesters surrounding the van and hitting it with batons taken from police.
Some angry protesters screamed in surprise, others hurled stones at the van and yelled invectives. A speaker at the rally called the police “puppies of imperialists” on a loudspeaker.
Moments earlier, police fired tear gas to disperse the angry protesters.
Protest leader, Renato Reyes, said several people had been injured and 29 arrested during the violent police dispersal of about 1,000 protesters.
Reyes also said some student activists were taken to a hospital after they were run over by the van.
“There was absolutely no justification for it,” Reyes said, adding, “Even as the president vowed an independent foreign policy, Philippine police forces still act as running dogs of the US.”
Protest leaders have also called on President Rodrigo Duterte to rein in the police and punish those responsible for Wednesday’s actions.
Police said the situation escalated when “activists broke into the small defensive formation” of officers guarding the embassy.
More than two dozen officers, police said, were injured during the clashes.
The demonstrators, consisting of students, workers and tribesmen, were calling for an end to the presence of US troops in the country.
The comes as the United States and the Philippines are conducting an annual exercise north of Manila. President Duterte has said it will be the last joint drills with the US under his administration.
Duterte has also called for the withdrawal of US Special Forces from the southern Philippines.

Policemen block protesters during a rally in front of the US embassy in Manila, the Philippines, October 19, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Duterte is now on a state visit to China, where he is seeking to repair relations strained over territorial conflicts in the South China Sea. The president is also seeking to expand trade and investments and financing for badly needed infrastructure projects.
Duterte has tried to reach out to China and Russia amid an uneasy relationship with the US.
Tension has been high between the Philippines and the United States since US officials criticized Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
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