MANILA - A group of protesters gathered Friday near the US Embassy in Manila to rally against the United States' military presence in the Southeast Asian country, as they called for upcoming war games in the city of Ormoc to be cancelled.
Some 20 protesters - including survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013 leaving a trail of destruction - burned a mock US flag and waved banners bearing slogans such as "No to war games", an epa journalist reports.
In a statement, nationalist group Bayan Eastern Visayas said the protest was organized to condemn the alleged use of disaster aid as justification for the US' ongoing military presence in the Philippines.
"We have seen again and again that the United States has touted their supposed benevolence during disasters to stealthily parallel their military interests in the Pacific," said Rey Miranda, secretary general of Bayan Eastern Visayas.
The protesters called for the cancellation of the annual Balikatan joint military exercise between the two countries, which is expected to take place in April 2017 in Ormoc, a city located in the eastern part of the country that has a long history of typhoon-related disasters.
Bayan Eastern Visayas said the medical and humanitarian assistance expected to be conducted together with the Balikatan exercises is nothing but "a tool to masquerade the aggressive geo-military motives of the United States".
The group urged President Rodrigo Duterte to follow through on recent demands that US troops leave the country.