Anti-Obama protesters clash with Manila police

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- Police armed with truncheons, shields and water hose clashed Wednesday with more than 100 left-wing activists who rallied at the United States Embassy in Manila to oppose a visit by President Barack Obama and a looming pact that will increase the American military presence in the Philippines.

Riot policemen blocked the flag-waving activists near the heavily fortified embassy compound, but the protesters slipped past them, sparking a brief scuffle in view of motorists stuck in traffic.

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Police and protesters clash as the latter try to force their way closer to the US Embassy for a rally against next week's visit of US President Barack Obama Wednesday, April 23, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. Philippine police armed with truncheon, shields and water hose have clashed with more than 100 left-wing activists who rallied at the US Embassy in Manila to oppose a visit by Obama and a looming pact that will increase the American military presence in the Philippines. (AP Photo)

The police sprayed the protesters with water from a fire truck to push them away. A police officer was punched in the face in the melee, but no arrests were made. Some of the protesters carried paper US flags with the message: "Obama, not welcome."

"Obama's visit is not a symbol of friendship, but signals the US' plan to re-occupy the Philippines. He will meet with his puppet Aquino to push for measures that would further tighten the US' economic, military and all-around control over the country," said Roger Soluta, secretary-general of labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, one of the groups present at the protest.

KMU warned that it will hold protests when Obama sets his foot in the country on April 28. The civil disturbance and management teams of the Philippine National Police (PNP) are already preparing for the protests, especially in areas identified as "no rally zones," said PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Reuben Sindac.

Obama will be in Manila for an overnight stop after visiting Japan, South Korea and Malaysia on an Asian trip where he is expected to reassure allied nations enmeshed in long-running territorial disputes with an increasingly assertive China.

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Health workers display placards during a rally outside the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 to protest next week's four-country visit of President Barack Obama that includes the Philippines. The US and Philippine governments are rushing to finalize, for possible signing, the so-called Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC) which will allow larger US military presence in the country. (AP Photo)

The United States and the Philippines, which are treaty allies, have been scrambling to overcome differences to finalize a new security accord in time for Obama's visit.

The Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC) will allow more US troops, aircraft, and ships to be temporarily stationed in selected Philippine military camps as a counterweight to China and as a standby disaster-response force.

"By allowing the US to establish de facto military bases all over the country, the Aquino government is further attacking the interests of the Filipino workers and people. The AEDC is a gross violation of our national sovereignty and poses danger to Filipinos’ lives and properties and to the country’s environment," said Soluta.

About 500 American soldiers have been based in the southern Philippines since 2002 to provide anti-terrorism training and intelligence to Filipino troops battling al-Qaida-linked militants. (AP/Virgil Lopez/Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)

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