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Militant groups protest against Balikatan military exercise

Several militant groups on Tuesday gathered in front of the United States Embassy and protested against the Balikatan military exercise.

“Tinututulan namin ito, una on the basis ang Balikatan exercises ay nagdudulot ng matinding kapahamakan sa mamamayan at sa bayan natin,” said League of Filipino Students National President Ivan Sucgang in Marisol Abdurahman's and Darlene Cay's "24 Oras"

(We are against this, firstly, on the basis that the Balikatan exercises are disastrous for our citizens and the country.)

After their protest, a police vehicle stopped them along Roxas Boulevard, and the protesters ran away. Two of them were caught and detained by the police.

The group said it strongly condemned the arrest of their colleagues by the police.

“Malinaw samin na ang paglulunsad ng protesta ay isang genuine at batayang karapatan ng mamamayan lalo na kaming mga kabataan," Sucgang added.

(It is clear to us that protesting is a genuine and established right of citizens, especially for the youth.)

Meanwhile, the Manila Police District said it was not forbidding anyone from protesting, but protests should only be held in designated freedom parks.

“Dito sa lungsod ng Maynila, nirerespeto natin ‘yung kalayaan sa pamamahayag kung saan meron tayong mga freedom park dito. Apat na freedom park ito pwede silang pumunta d’yan,” said Manila Police District spokesperson Police Major Philipp Ines.

(Here in the City of Manila where we have freedom parks, we respect freedom of speech. There are four freedom parks that they can use.)

Various militant groups also stormed Camp Aguinaldo as a protest against the Balikatan.

"For the first time, they're doing live fire exercises and simulating the sinking of a ship. It intends to provoke China, intends to escalate the conflict," said BAYAN Secretary General Renato Reyes.

He also said that the joint military exercises involving Filipino and American soldiers were a violation of sovereignty, a violation that has been going on for four decades.

Reyes added that only the Americans benefited from the arrangement while the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continued to stagnate.

GMA Integrated News is still trying to get a statement from the AFP regarding their criticisms. — Sherylin Untalan/DVM, GMA Integrated News