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Protesters accuse Duterte of bowing to US interests

Manila, Feb 18: Student protesters here on Saturday accused Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte of bowing down to US interests, as they called for a defence pact between the two countries to be scrapped. Dozens of protesters, led by the League of Filipino Students (LFS), marched to the US Embassy to demand an end to the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which allows the US to rotate troops into the Southeast Asian country for extended stays and build and operate facilities on Philippine bases, Efe news reported.

Amid a heavy police presence, the students held up placards bearing slogans such as “US troops out now” and “Junk EDCA”, as they criticised Duterte for failing to follow through on his anti-America rhetoric. The protesters also burned a mock US flag. “After several months of being in power, Duterte has proven that he is all bark and no bite,” LFS tiol spokesperson J.P. Rosos said. “His anti-US pronouncements during the campaign period and his early weeks as president have now become a distant memory of the past. Little by little, he is being tamed by (the) US to allow favours for the imperialist power,” he added. In October, Duterte said he wanted US troops to leave the country, possibly within two years, and would be willing to scrap defence pacts with Washington if necessary. But students at Saturday’s protest said the president had not proven that he was committed to following through on such threats.

“Duterte’s anti-US pronouncements and rhetoric are empty and meaningless. He hasn’t done anything to end the presence, incursions, impositions, and domition of imperialist US,” Rosos added. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita