Police, militants clash near US embassy

(UPDATED) MILITANT groups and policemen clashed near the United States Embassy along Roxas Boulevard in Manila on Thursday.

Police said activists were protesting the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and the Philippines. The deal seeks to bolster security relationship between the two allied nations.

The clash ensued when police tried to disperse the militants, who marched from T.M. Kalaw up to the United Nations Avenue, as they tried to hold a lightning protest in front US embassy in Manila.

No one was hurt in the melee, police said.

Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (Kilusan) said EDCA has handed back to the US the right to base in the country land, sea and air and space along with immunity from suit, as all conflict is to be resolved through consultation with parties rather than going through either Philippine or international courts.

The signing of the agreement was timed during the state visit of US President Barack Obama in Manila last April.

Various groups have taken advantage of the commemoration of the 116th anniversary of the Philippine Independence on Thursday to protest the major issues and controversies hounding the Aquino administration.

Bayan Muna Party-list Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate said that after 116 years of so-called independence, the country and its people have yet to experience genuine freedom.

"This is the sad truth. Our country is still controlled by foreign interest particularly that of the US which has now intensified due to the US pivot to Asia and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). From being a semi-colony we are becoming yet again a full colony of the US," said Colmenares.

The House Senior Deputy Minority Leader said that they are against all types of foreign intervention in the country.

"It does not matter whether it is the US or China that is trying to interfere, we need to stand up and assert our independence. What we need is a truly independent foreign policy," the lawmaker said

For his part, Zarate noted that majority of Filipinos are still not free from poverty and corruption because the land is still controlled by a few and corruption can be traced up to the highest government office.

"From the P728 million fertilizer fund scam to the P10-billion pork barrel scam, unscrupulous officials used the poor to get even richer," he said.

Meanwhile, the Scrap Pork Movement held a program in front the Liwasang Bonifacio to call out the authorities on the alleged VIP treatment given to government officials involved in the pork barrel scam.

Television personality RJ Ledesma said the Aquino government should investigate all those officials who were mentioned in the affidavit of detained businesswoman Janet Napoles, the alleged pork scam mastermind.

"Investigate all, regardless of what political colors or affiliations they belong. And also, jail those who will be found guilty," Ledesma said.

Celebrity activist Mae Paner, also known as Juana Change, marched in the streets of Manila wearing his customized Filipiniana dress. Her necklace is adorned with vandalize faces of the country's well-known leaders who were implicated in the pork barrel scam.

Paner said that justice should be served to all, as she criticized the selective justice being applied by President Benigno Aquino III to his allies.

"Anong klaseng daang matuwid yan pag kung selective lang ang ginagawa administrasyon na ito," she said. (Sunnex)
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