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Protesters, police clash ahead of Philippine leader’s speech

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Left-wing protesters clashed with riot police amid a downpour Monday as they tried to breach a barricade of barbed wire and shipping containers ahead of the Philippine president’s final state of the nation address.

Some of the approximately 4,000 drenched protesters started to push away the metal cargo containers and iron railings blocking them from getting close to the House of Representatives in suburban Quezon city where President Benigno Aquino III is to deliver his speech later Monday, police said.

At least three policemen and 16 protesters were injured when authorities used water cannon to push back the activists, who hurled rocks and bottles at the police, according to police and Red Cross volunteers.

Aquino, whose six-year term ends next June, is expected to report on the progress of his fight against corruption and poverty, his campaign battle cry that landed him a landslide victory.

But problems have persisted in a Southeast Asian country where about a fourth of its 100 million people remain mired in long-entrenched poverty. Communist and Muslim insurgencies that have raged on and off for more than four decades have combined with natural disasters in the typhoon-prone archipelago and law and order problems to turn governance into a tough and complex dilemma.

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