Activists in the Philippines staged a protest outside the U.S. embassy in Manila Friday, ahead of President Benigno Aquino's meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington later in the day.
The meeting at the White House is expected to include discussions on boosting security ties and increasing the number of U.S. troops in the Philippines. The talks come amid rising tensions between the Philippines and China over a disputed area of the South China sea.
But the activists say the country is "being played'' by the U.S., which takes no position on South China Sea rivalries. They say that 20 years after major U.S. bases were closed in the Philippines, the United States is seeking to return and, in their words, transform the country into a military outpost.
This will be Aquino's first Oval Office meeting with President Obama. The White House talks take place as the U.S. implements a new security strategy establishing the Asia-Pacific as a top priority.