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Protesters Repeatedly Rammed by Police Van Outside US Embassy in Philippines

  • VOA News

Police officers hit fleeing protesters during a violent dispersal outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, Oct. 19, 2016.

Police officers hit fleeing protesters during a violent dispersal outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, Oct. 19, 2016.

A police van repeatedly rammed protesters engaged in an anti-U.S. rally outside the U.S. Embassy in the Philippine capital, Manila, leaving several people injured.

About 1,000 protesters gathered Wednesday in front of the embassy to call for an end to the U.S. military presence in the Philippines. Police fired tear gas and used water cannon to disperse the crowd.

Demonstrators hospitalized

Video showed protesters surrounding a police van and hitting it with wooden batons before the driver started repeatedly ramming them with the vehicle. One protest leader, Renato Reyes, said at least three of the protesters were hospitalized.

A protester who was run over by a Philippine National Police van waits for treatment outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, Oct. 19, 2016.

A protester who was run over by a Philippine National Police van waits for treatment outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, Oct. 19, 2016.

At least 23 protesters were arrested during the rally, after they threw red paint on a group of police officers.

The protesters support President Rodrigo Duterte's call for a foreign policy that does not depend on the United States, a longtime ally.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his address to a Filipino business sector in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines, Oct. 13, 2016.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his address to a Filipino business sector in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines, Oct. 13, 2016.

Duterte shifting away from US

In recent weeks, Duterte has increased calls for a foreign policy that does not involve cooperation with the United States and has attacked President Barack Obama personally, calling him a “son of a whore.”

​The activists, who came from the a large left-wing umbrella group called Byan (Nation), have protested in front of the American embassy for decades, most of which were peaceful.

China visit

During the protests, Duterte was on a state visit to China where he is trying to improve strained relations and expand bilateral trade and investment opportunities to improve his country's deteriorating infrastructure.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte (L) shakes hands with Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua (R), as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) looks on, at airport in Beijing, Oct. 18, 2016.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte (L) shakes hands with Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua (R), as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) looks on, at airport in Beijing, Oct. 18, 2016.

Amid an uneasy relationship between the Philippines and the United States, Duterte has made overtures to China and Russia, creating more uncertainty to his country's long alliance with with the U.S.

The protesters, however, are opposed to Duterte's outreach to China. In a statement, they said, "The Philippines will not be dictated on, whether by the U.S. or China."

The violent protests occurred as Duterte is under international scrutiny for allegedly ordering the killings of thousands of suspected drug dealers and users in his war against illegal drugs.

High school students hold banners calling for just and lasting peace as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte marks his first 100 days in office in Manila, Oct. 7, 2016.

High school students hold banners calling for just and lasting peace as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte marks his first 100 days in office in Manila, Oct. 7, 2016.

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