“No-bama, no bases, no war,” chanted an angry crowd of protesters in Manila Monday, infuriated by a ten-year defense deal in which the United States promised support for the Filipino army in the event of any dispute with the country’s neighbors growing violent.
According to NBC News, the crowd paraded through the streets with several figurines that appeared constructed with the full detail of a parade float. The centerpiece of the protest, however, was a large dog with the face of the President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III. The dog pulled a chariot controlled by a figurine of President Barack Obama, which was burned in effigy while floating through the streets.
The activists, many members of the Philippines’ left wing political party, also threw rotten tomatoes and eggs at the effigies before they were burned, according to the Philippine Star. Opponents believe, the report continues, that significant US military presence in the country violates provisions of the Filipino Constitution.
The Daily Mail notes that protesters appeared particularly concerned that further influence in their military from the United States would result in that country controlling other aspects of Filipino government, as the Philippines were once under the stewardship of the United States government before becoming sovereign. The two countries signed the new defense pact this week while President Obama visited the Philippines; the President is currently on a tour of Asia that began in Japan and stopped in Malaysia before arriving in Manila. The pact gives the United States greater access to Filipino military bases in exchange for increased support.
Many argue the visit’s goal is to reassure neighboring nations that the United States will support them in the event that China becomes increasingly belligerent about numerous territorial disputes. Japan is currently embroiled in a years-long dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea; the Philippines also currently remains in dispute with China over its territory, one which Chinese newspaper Xinhua called a “bitter territorial row” in an editorial this week.
In a public appearance yesterday in Manila, President Obama disputed the belief that he was in Asia to scheme against the growth of China. “Our goal is not to counter China. Our goal is not to contain China. Our goal is to make sure international rules and norms are respected and that includes in the area of international disputes,” the President said, echoed by President Aquino.
Watch raw video of the effigy of President Obama burn below: