Progressive groups storm US embassy to protest Trump at inauguration.

Members of people’s groups in the Philippines protested in front of the United States embassy Friday in time for the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th American president.

Protesters led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) condemned Trump, calling him “the new face of imperialism” and “a symbol of sexism, racism, xenophobia and discrimination”.

According to JP Rosos, national spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students, “Trump is a fascist and far right. The global community can only expect intensified neoliberal attacks and wars of aggression against them, as the defining characteristics of imperialism remain.”

Former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casino drew comparisons between Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama. “When Obama was elected, he was touted as a progressive leader who promised a kinder USA,” he said. “However, he broke all his promises and fell short of being progressive.”

“One can only imagine what may happen under Trump, who does not even try to pretend to appear progressive,” Casino added.

Global effects

Monique Wilson, convenor of One Billion Rising-Philippines, explained why Filipinos are joining the protests against the new US president.

“We stand not just for us,” she said, “But also for our oppressed brethren in America who will feel the brunt of the discriminatory policies of the Trump administration against their democratic rights.”

Casino shared that there are people who ask why Filipinos should care about something not directly affecting our country. “We have to remember that we are part of the global community, and that community is fighting against US imperialism, which Donald Trump represents,” Casino said.

“You do not need to be American to stand against Trump,” he added.

Conflicting interests

The protesters also called on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to start taking concrete actions towards an independent foreign policy. Duterte had previously criticized the US government, until Trump’s victory at the election.

The president praised the newly-elected Trump in November, creating fears that he would bow to US interests in contrast to his former pronouncements. This also does not align with the agenda of independent foreign policy being discussed in the ongoing peace process with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Progressive groups are also critical of Trump’s militaristic attitude towards other countries, including the Philippines. According to Casino, Trump allegedly plans to station more US troops and warships in the county. “This will not only increase tensions in the South China Sea, but also continue the violations of the US military in the Philippines,” Casino said.

Casino also said that Trump’s protection of American corporations and banks would allow them to plunder the Philippines’ wealth further, and that Duterte must act against Trump’s moves to push US corporate interests in the country.

“Pres. Duterte must stand for the interests of the Filipino people against US imperialism, not the reverse,” he said. (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)