Katy Perry pop song deployed to disperse anti-APEC protesters in Philippines following clashes
Philippine police have deployed Katy Perry pop songs to disperse protesters at an Asia-Pacific leaders’ summit in Manila, enraging some demonstrators but amusing others.
Hundreds of protesters rallied outside a venue where US president Barack Obama and other leaders of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group were meeting.
The rally edged towards violence when protesters tried to break through lines of riot police to reach the summit venue.
Filipinos in general love music, and it has a calming effect for everyone.Police spokeswoman chief inspector Kimberly Gonzales
Police responded by firing water cannons and scuffled with protesters, comprising of indigenous, student and labour groups, who chanted: “Junk APEC.”
Then police pulled out their secret weapon: pop princess Katy Perry on giant loudspeakers.
Perry’s hit song Roar was played at full volume, the top of a demonstration disco playlist aimed at distracting the protesters and drowning out their chants.
Dolly Parton’s Islands in the stream, David Guetta’s Sexy Bitch and the Bee Gee’s How Deep Is Your Love were among the other songs deployed against the protesters.
To add a street bass beat, some of the police tapped their batons against their shields in time with the music.
“It’s ridiculous,” leftist member of parliament Carlos Isagani Zarate told AFP news agency, as the protesters retreated to soul classic My Girl.
Many other protesters also expressed anger at authorities trying to suppress their message of opposition to globalisation and free-trade policies championed by APEC.
“We just want to make our voices heard,” 64-year-old mango farmer Candelario Rusasena said.
But others could not hide their amusement.
“That was a rude and desperate move,” 54-year-old rice farmer Redo Pena said as he broke into a toothless grin.
Police defend using music for ‘calming effect’
Metro Manila police spokeswoman chief inspector Kimberly Gonzales said the music was aimed at de-escalating tensions.
“Filipinos in general love music, and it has a calming effect for everyone. This goes well with our maximum tolerance policy during protests,” Ms Gonzales said.
She said using music at protests was not an unusual tactic, and there was no intent to trivialise Thursday’s rally.
“We understand the seriousness of the issues. We don’t mean to insult people,” she said.
The protests occurred as Philippine president Benigno Aquino was welcoming Mr Obama, Chinese president Xi Jinping and other leaders for the summit’s second and final day.
The protesters said they opposed APEC’s free-trade agenda because it favoured big corporations and neglected the poor.
“Aquino should protect his people, globalisation has caused the prices of our goods to go down. We barely break even,” rice farmer Nida Floresca said.
“We don’t even have irrigation to water our crops. Aquino should think of us first.”
Farmers from the town of La Union, around 270 kilometres north of Manila, had marched to the capital in sandals and straw hats.