Protesters in Bacolod question 'huge budget' for ASEAN Summit

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Militant groups hit the national government for spending too much on hosting the ongoing 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings in Manila.

About 100 protesters trooped to the Fountain of Justice Tuesday afternoon, November 14, for the national coordinated  protest against US President Donald Trump, one of the world leaders who flew into Manila for the event.

Michael de la Concepcion, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Negros, questioned the P15-billion budget for the government’s ASEAN hosting.

“Why there is a budget for our foreign delegates when it can’t allocate budget for our social services program?” he asked, echoing urban poor group Kadamay in Manila. (READ: 'P15-B budget should have gone to the poor' – Kadamay)

“The Duterte administration has P15.5 billion for ASEAN hosting while 26 million Filipino people are living under P61 a day,” De la Concepcion added.

He noted that there are 4.5 million homeless people in the country, and 7 million hungry and malnourished children. 

De la Concepcion said the huge budget spent on the event "represents a betrayal of the Filipino people, who are in dire need of social services."

The group slammed the Duterte administration's friendly ties with the Trump government. The protesters burned a tarpaulin bearing the image of Trump and  Duterte on strings, suggesting what they called the master-puppet relationship of the two. (READ: Trump cites 'great relationship' with Duterte during 1st bilateral meeting)

They also asked what happened to Duterte's "independent foreign policy," or weaning the Philippines away from its oldest and most powerful ally, the United States, considering Duterte's latest statements on the US and Trump.  (TRANSCRIPT: Duterte, Trump opening remarks in their PH meeting

De la Concepcion said that Trump’s visit to the country would only drag the Philippines in the North Korean conflict and other conflicts instigated by the superpower.   –