Hundreds of protesters took to the streets across the Philippines yesterday and today to rally against US President Donald Trump's upcoming visit to the nation, calling upon President Rodrigo Duterte to resist US influence in Philippine foreign policy.
Across town, protesters from the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) rallied outside Trump Towers, claiming the USA president had the intention of using the Philippines' territory to install more American military bases and that his heightened involvement in the country's affairs could drag them into war. "I would like to pour more money [into] this medium, small, and micro enterprise", he said to loud applause during the launch of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) business mentorship program.
Human rights groups and Filipino lawmakers have been investigating the role of death squads in Davao during Mr Duterte's time of office.
Mr Trump, who has said Mr Duterte is doing "a great job", himself came under criticism during his 2016 presidential run, when he told a campaign rally in Iowa: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?"
"The most productive [bilateral meetings], by the way, was our talk with President Xi Jinping and President Putin".
"Trump must not keep ignoring the grave human rights situation in the Philippines". I can not escape that from my duty so I have every right to ask him.
Duterte took steps to thaw frosty relations with China after he won the presidency previous year.
"Completely inappropriate photo for the head of one our most important intelligent (sic) services to be in", federal opposition member of parliament Anthony Byrne said in a Twitter post.
Duterte might also expect support from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who struck the pose when the pair met in Tokyo previous year.
Putin, in his first meeting with Duterte on the sideline of the AELM, promised to back the country's combat against terrorism.
Duterte, who is often criticized for alleged extrajudicial killings in the drug war, also said it is unlikely that Trump will bring up the matter during their bilateral meeting.
Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said it was hypocritical for the two to even discuss the topic given their tracklist of human rights violations.
"Trump represents the worst aspects of United States imperialism", Bayan said in a statement. There was also a demonstration by the LGBT community at the University of the Philippines.