Outnumbered police guarding the U.S. Embassy Friday fought off about 3,000 people protesting the presence of U.S. bases in the Philippines in a see-saw battle that left at least 10 lawmen injured, authorities said.
Police said the rock-throwing demonstrators, demanding the dismantling of all U.S. military facilities in the Philippines, surged toward the embassy from across the street at the end of a 2-mile protest march.The outnumbered policemen, with shields and truncheons, pushed back the demonstrators who retaliated with a hail of stones and rocks from a nearby construction site. A 25-minute battle spread through the adjacent "tourist belt," causing some panic and traffic jams.
"They wanted to get in the embassy so we tried to stop them," said police Capt. Harrison Tolosa. "They started throwing rocks at us," he said.
At least three demonstrators were arrested and 10 lawmen were injured, police said.
Embassy spokesman Jerry Huchel said the melee did not affect operations, except that the main gate was closed for about five minutes, delaying the departure of employees at the end of the day.
"It was expected and the police seem to have handled it well," he said.
The march was staged by members of a broad anti-bases coalition whose leaders called at a news conference earlier for the dismantling of U.S. bases and the removal of all nuclear arms from the bases.
A 16-man independent panel composed of lawmakers, civic leaders and social activists said the current talks on the status of Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base should be used to demand that the United States withdraw all nuclear arms from the bases, America's largest installations overseas.
They also said the government should refuse to negotiate a new treaty when the pact expires because the installations cause "insult and shame . . . which impair any friendly relation" between the Philippines and the United States.
President Corazon Aquino has said she will keep her options open on renewal until the treaty expires.