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Women march for US troop clearout

Protesters say no to heavier military presence

Women march for US troop clearout
Women join a protest at the former US naval base in Subic, Zambales. (Photo by Anthony Bayarong)

Women’s groups called for the expulsion of US troops from the country in a series of protest marches to mark International Women's Day on Friday.

At least two people were injured as members of the Gabriela women's group clashed with riot police outside the US embassy in Manila shortly before noon.

Last December, the US announced it would increase the number of troops, aircraft and ships that rotate through the Philippines to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

The protesters, however, say the presence of US troops, especially in the southern Philippines, is an invitation to "continue violence against women."

Several rape cases involving US servicemen have hit the headlines in recent years including that of Daniel Smith, a marine who was sentenced to 40 years for raping a woman in Subic in 2006.

Lawyer Terry Ridon of the Youth Party said the presence of US troops also endangers the country's sovereignty and the environment.

He noted recent incidents, such as the dumping of toxic waste in Subic Bay by a US naval ship and the grounding of a US warship in Tubbataha Reef that caused significant damage to the World Heritage site.

"On Women’s Day, we seek not only to end all violence perpetrated against women but also to address the primordial roots of violence in our country – the continued and intensifying foreign exploitation of our sovereignty and environment," he said.

Rhodora Bulosan, secretary general of Gabriela in northern Mindanao, said where foreign troops go, "lives are lost, women are abused, and our sovereignty is raped."

"To end violence perpetrated against women and the country, we must rise up to the challenge. Let us expel foreign troops and destructive multinational companies in the Philippines," she said.

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