“Trump represents the worst aspects of US imperialism. His visit to the Philippines will bring more harm than good.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – To various cause-oriented groups, Trump’s impending visit is advance tidings of worse things to come. Just in his first year in office, US President Donald Trump is already facing scandals and outcries in his home country. When he visits the Philippines for three days starting November 12, he will also face a series of protest actions, various groups vowed.
Although the Philippine government has declared a week-long non-working holiday in time for ASEAN meetings and Trump’s arrival, the mood is not festive at all for sectors which stand to hurt the most from the looming economic and military agreements these international meetings are expected to wrap up in Manila. In a press conference in Quezon City three days before Trump’s scheduled flight to Manila, Filipino activists under the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) explained why the likes of US President Donald Trump is anathema to any prospect of prosperous, democratic and human rights-respecting Philippines.
“Trump represents the worst aspects of US imperialism. His visit to the Philippines will bring more harm than good,” said the statement by Bayan. In Filipino, the groups succinctly put it as “Pahamak si Trump.”
Among the reasons cited by Renato Reyes Jr., Bayan secretary general, is Trump’s (and that of the US) push to involve the Philippines into the US conflict with North Korea, through the US’ drive to increase US military presence in the Philippines and engage in direct combat action in Mindanao.
“Trump wants US bases in the Philippines, using ISIS as a pretext, to project US military power in Asia against China,” Bayan warned.
With Sandugo’s Jerome Succor Aba, they asked the public not to fall for the US government’s war propaganda machine that uses Islamophobia to justify launching all-out wars complete with aerial bombings and martial law.
The spokesperson for March for Science Alliance (Philippines), Marlo Asis, said President Duterte approaches militarism and war sharing “commonalities” with that of Trump. He said Duterte has local versions of Trump’s policy of assiduous denial of climate change and scientific knowledge, a vigorous campaign for what the scientists described here as “non-existent clean coal,” and serving as a mouthpiece for the billion-dollar fossil fuel industry.
In militarism, the scientist group also denounced the Duterte version or implementation of US militarism and war. Cleng Julve of Agham and March for Science Alliance said that “(A)mid increasing US militarism in the Asia-Pacific region, Duterte has allowed troops in the Marawi siege, and he kept the status quo on agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.”
In terms of livelihood and economy, the groups foresee that Trump’s visit would continue to enable and intensify the profiteering and exploitation of the few amid worsening hardships of the many. Youth leader JP Rosos of League of Filipino Students warned that bilateral and multilateral trade agreements with the Philippines and other Asian states are all set for further opening the gates to neoliberal globalization. “This only means full-scale exploitation of our labor and material exports for these imperialists’ profit.”
Gabriela Women’s Alliance secretary-general Joms Salvador pointed to the stark injustice of such a setup, saying the net worth of just eight of the world’s richest men is equivalent to what half of the world’s poor population share among themselves.
Trump the biggest threat to regional peace
The #BanTrump campaign starts in Manila with Bayan announcement of protest actions from November 10 to 12 at various places in Manila and Pampanga. Vowing to be in these actions and calling for support also from the public are teachers, indigenous peoples and Moro, activist scientists, women, youth-students, families of migrant Filipinos, and workers.
The families of thousands of killed under President Duterte’s drug war, counterinsurgency war and war against Muslims and indigenous peoples, cannot expect Trump to speak out on human rights in the Philippines. Bayan said Trump’s regime “cares little about the issue (of human rights) here or anywhere else in the world.”
“Don’t be surprised if Trump commits increased military aid to the Duterte government despite its bloody human rights record,” Reyes said.
The same warning is echoed by youth leader and LFS spokesperson JP Rosos, who said at the press conference that with Trump’s PH visit, as part of US pivot to Asia to, “they will intensify their presence in the region by ramping up its military capabilities and forging unjust treaties and agreements” to contain threats to US hegemony.
On November 10, youth groups are set to protest the arrival of Donald Trump at the US Embassy in Manila.
A multi-sectoral protest action is set “to greet Trump” on November 12. Youth camp-outs are also planned for in various areas in Manila from November 12 to 14, the dates of the ASEAN summit.
Asked how the protest actions will happen given the increased security in the National Capital Region, Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon, Reyes of Bayan said they will push through with the protests. “We can’t be under Martial Law,” he said, adding the groups are decided on forging ahead with the series of protests.