Clinton convoy in paint attack in Philippines
MANILA, Philippines—Protesters clashed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail near the Malacañang Palace Wednesday, forcing her convoy to detour, an Agence France-Presse photographer on the scene said.
Filipino security men and at least one American jumped out with automatic rifles drawn after about 50 protesters kicked their vehicles and hurled red paint on the cars, but no shots were fired, the photographer said.
US embassy spokeswoman Bettina Malone and Manila police both declined to comment on the confrontation, which the photographer said occurred after Clinton called on President Benigno Aquino at Malacañang palace.
The photographer said the incident occurred as Filipino police motorcycle outriders led out the Clinton convoy out of the palace in Manila.
The main body of the convoy turned around and took another route, while Filipino riot police swung their batons at the chasing protesters, who retreated, he added.
Some of the security vehicles suffered dents and one had a broken side mirror after being kicked by the protesters, the photographer said.
Dianne Marie Solmayor, spokeswoman of the Manila branch of the leftist youth group Anakbayan, told AFP her group was responsible for the incident.
She said 50 members hurled red, water-based paint bombs at Clinton’s convoy and hurled their placards at the vehicles.
“We staged a lightning rally against the convoy while it emerged from the presidential palace,” she said by telephone.
“Some of the vehicles were hit with paint bombs and placards. It was unavoidable that some of them sustained damage. The rest turned around.”
She said none of the participants were arrested but claimed police injured some of them.
Shortly after the incident, a lone protester also disrupted a public forum with Clinton to urge the end of a military pact between the two countries.
At a largely friendly public meeting that was broadcast on television, a demonstrator suddenly stood up with a banner and repeatedly shouted, “Drop VFA!” before staff at the event escorted the protester out.
The protester was referring to the Visiting Forces Agreement, which gives US troops legal safeguards when they visit the Philippines.
The pact has been controversial in the Philippines after alleged crimes by US troops in the former colony, as well as opposition among some groups for any American soldiers to be in their country.
Clinton brushed off the protest and said that it was a sign that “people are unafraid to express themselves” in the Philippines.
She was on a visit to the Philippines aimed at shoring up military cooperation amid high tension between Manila and Beijing over a territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).