UNITED STATES President Donald Trump literally stood out among the 20 world leaders who attended the 31st Asean Summit in Manila. He was the only one with a 13-foot effigy that Filipino activists mocked with all their might, amid the strict security laid out for the dignitaries.
Thousands of activists held rallies in the streets of Manila as the Asean Summit officially opened Monday to decry the participation of Trump, clashing with anti-riot police officers who tried to disperse them with water cannons and truncheons that left several wounded from both sides.
The activists earlier drumbeat their consternation against the US president with the hashtag #BanTrumpPH and produced the effigy that depicted Trump with four arms that form a swastika sign, symbolising “fascism, war and plunder.”
The four arms of Trump’s effigy, which was created by local artist group Ugat Lahi, could be seen spinning with a handgun, a missile, an excavator and a moneybag in each arm. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s face was hiding behind Trump’s legs. The two leaders are expected to hold a bilateral meeting today.
Duterte has been warming up to Trump after declaring “separation” from the US, a long-time ally of the Philippines, and pivoting to China in a speech during his state visit to Beijing last year. But the flamboyant Trump was not a “welcome sight” at the Asean Summit in Manila amid mocking banners waved by angry protesters.
“Trump is a fascist, racist, sexist and warmonger. He should not (have been) allowed to come to the Philippines,” said Neri Colmenares, chair of the militant Bayan Muna (Nation First).
The Philippines is the last stop of Trump’s tour of Asia that has taken him to Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam. He arrived in Manila on Sunday and was also greeted with protests by activists.
Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance), described Trump as the “CEO (chief executive officer) of US imperialism out to wreck havoc on the world.”
“Trump today is the biggest threat to peace. He is provoking conflict in the Korean Peninsula. He wants to continue the ‘war on terror’ in the Philippines and drop bombs on Moro (Muslims) communities. He wants to further open up economies of developing countries. He uses US military aid to prop up fascist regimes that violate human rights, in exchange for acceptance of US dictates,” Reyes said.
Trump is “an enemy of the Filipino people,” the activist claimed. The US president’s effigy was burned amid chants of “thrash US imperialism” by protesters including those from the United States, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and the African continent.
Some 60,000 police, soldiers and other law enforcement units have been deployed in the capital and surrounding areas to secure the world leaders and other dignitaries who discussed important matters on politics, economics and security.
While Trump was greeted with protest, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received a “pop star” welcome by Filipinos. Thousands lined up the streets on Sunday when the handsome 45-year-old leader arrived. He later dropped by at the popular Filipino food chain giant Jollibee for a take-away fried chicken order. Trudeau also granted photographs with the crew and customers.
On Sunday night, Duterte, along with his partner Honeylet Avanceña, hosted a special gala dinner for Asean leaders and other world leaders including Trump and Trudeau.
“I am deeply honoured to host this rare occasion where a number of world leaders are gathered in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Asean,” Duterte said.
Other leaders in attendance at the summit included Premier Li Keqiang (China), Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (Russia), Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Japan), Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei Darussalam), Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Australia), President Joko Widodo (Indonesia), Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith (Laos) and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma). United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also attended the summit.
Asean is celebrating its 50th year with the Philippines as the host. The region represents the world’s third largest market with its population of over 600 million people.
“Throughout our Chairmanship of Asean in 2017, the Philippines has been guided by the theme ‘Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,’ which captures ASEAN’s resolve to effect positive change in the lives of our peoples and assert our position in the global economy,” Duterte said.
“Beyond our regional borders, we, as Asean citizens, are steadfast in building an Asean Community that is united by [our] shared history, values, and aspirations. We continue to harmonise the three pillars of the Asean Community by strengthening economic integration and building a common identity, while embracing our uniqueness and diversity,” he added.
During the dinner gala, world leaders and special guests feasted on Filipino cuisine such as ensaladang ubod at alugbati (heart of palm and malabar spinach salad), sinigang na maya-maya sa miso (soured red snapper in miso broth), bistek sushi (filipino steak sushi), charcoal grilled apahap fillet with tomato-mango sambal and budin (Filipino caramel flan).