MANILA - Activists protesting Balikatan, the annual Philippine-US military exercises, on Monday hurled paint-filled balloons at the American seal of the US Embassy in Manila and removed some of the letters of its signage using crowbars.
In Floridablanca, Pampanga province, other activists also picketed Basa Air Base of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) as part of a nationwide protest by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) against the joint exercises.
Elsewhere in Pampanga, at least 700 Bayan members gathered at the Nepo Mall grounds and Barangay Marisol in Angeles City and at Barangay Dau in Mabalacat town for a march to Clark Freeport, formerly Clark Air Base, one of Balikatan's sites.
They were blocked by Clark security personnel and anti-riot policemen at the free port's main gate, which was protected by barricades made of barbed wire. Only two lanes were open to motorists.
The early morning attack took Manila Police District (MPD) personnel by surprise. By the time anti-riot policemen responded, what was left of the signage read: ".m.as.. of the .ni.ed S.ates of .merica."
The vandalism led to the relief of the Luneta Police Community Precinct (PCP) commander and a policeman caught sleeping inside a patrol car while the protesters staged their lightning siege.
Apart from the administrative relief of the police official and the sleeping policeman, the MPD is set to file a charge of malicious mischief against the protesters responsible for the vandalism.