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Protesters Heckle, Disrupt Duterte's Independence Day Speech

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while addressing the crowd after leading the flag-raising rites at the 120th Philippine Independence Day celebration at the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine at Kawit, Cavite province south of Manila, June 12, 2017.

Several left-wing activists have heckled and disrupted a televised Independence Day speech by the Philippine president and called him a "traitor" amid criticism of his handling of territorial disputes with China.

President Rodrigo Duterte halted his speech Tuesday during the commotion and calmly watched from a historic balcony in Kawit town south of Manila as police pulled the protesters away. He asked law enforcers to deal with the protesters "with maximum tolerance" as the audience, which included ambassadors, waited.

He later resumed his speech, which focused on his battle against illegal drugs and corruption.

Duterte has come under fire from critics who say he has been far too soft on China over contested South China Sea territories. Officials say his approach has fostered talks and won concessions.