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AFP, PNP: No security threat at APEC

President Aquino receives the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council report presented by business leaders (from left) Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Tony Tan Caktiong, Doris Mag- saysay Ho and Guillermo Luz. The report contains the council’s recommendations to APEC leaders on the priorities and concerns of business sectors for inclusion in the APEC meetings.

MANILA, Philippines - With the Asia-Pacific Eco- nomic Cooperation (APEC) summit just a little over two weeks away, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has not de- tected any specific threat to the safety of officials and delegates to the gathering, AFP spokes- man Col. Restituto Padilla said.

“There is no serious threat to the security of APEC. The only challenge we see is the plan of some groups or individuals to express their views about the supposed failure of the govern- ment,” he said. “Part and parcel of security is to have a good situational awareness of what is happen- ing around you. That includes any perceived threat that may be forthcoming or looming. All government agencies involved in security are working on that,” he said.

The AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have laid down massive security prepara- tions which, according to some officials, were more complex than the one set in place for the January visit of Pope Francis.

“It’s safe to say that we have 21 heads of economies coming in so it’s 21 times more security preparations,” said Col. Vic To- mas, deputy commander of the Joint Task Force National Capital Region (JTFNCR). Padilla raised the same observation in a press briefing yesterday.

The security preparations for the January papal visit were so far the most massive arranged for a visiting head of state under the Aquino administration. The Vatican is a sovereign state.

Tomas said they have been fine tuning security preparations since early this year.

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“Training, leveling of compe- tencies are continuing,” he said.

“We have strengthened our coordination with other agencies,” he added.

Expected to attend the gathering of leaders are US President Barack Obama, Russian Presi- dent Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping.

Security officials said they also have to deal with protest activities. Rallyists would be required to secure permits and would be allowed only at des- ignated areas.

“Every Filipino citizen has a right to express his sentiments provided that they are within the bounds of law. For as long as they remain non-violent and they have permits, the military and the police will be there to protect them,” Padilla said.

But Padilla stressed the mili- tary and the police would strictly enforce the law.

Support APEC

Organizers of the upcoming APEC summit are encouraging the public to support the coun- try’s hosting of the leaders’ gath- ering by watching its various events either on cable television or online by downloading the APEC TV app from the Google Play store or the App Store to be released on Nov. 9.

Metro Manila residents can also take advantage of the holidays declared for the summit by exploring various tourist destinations, organiz- ers said, adding “staycation” or staying at home would also be a good option. The summit is from Nov.18 to 19.

The public can also keep up with APEC happenings by stay- ing tuned to the news, or by simply scrolling feeds on the organizers’ social media accounts: Facebook (www.facebook.com/apec2015ph) and Twitter (www. twitter.com/apec2015ph) and keep track via the #APEC2015 hashtag.

Metro Manila residents will get a short break from school and work from Nov. 16 to 20.

Malacañang yesterday clari- fied that “the entirety of Roxas Boulevard (both the northbound and southbound lanes) will no longer be accessible to non- APEC vehicles.” The road clo- sure will be from P. Burgos to MIA Road.

The 2015 APEC summit will have the theme “Building In- clusive Economies, Building A Better World” and will focus on achieving inclusive growth for its 21-member economies.

Sustain reforms

Elections are still six months away, but already investors are seeking reassurance that who- ever replaces President Aquino will honor his clean style of government.

Aquino sees Manuel Roxas II, until recently his secretary of interior, as the candidate most likely to sustain his legacy.

Roxas, who has been criti- cized for weak management, is currently third in opinion polls. Second is Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is facing corruption charges but presents himself as a competent manager.

First in all surveys is Sen. Grace Poe, who rose to popu- larity as the adopted daughter of actor Fernando Poe Jr. She also champions clean govern- ment but may be disqualified over citizenship and residency issues.

A fourth candidate, Sen. Mir- iam Defensor-Santiago, presents herself as both clean and com- petent.

Aquino’s two predecessors were both convicted of corrup- tion, and there is concern about who could follow.

“The problem is you don’t have any more Aquinos waiting on the sidelines,” said Kenneth Akintewe, a fund manager at Aberdeen Asset Management in Singapore, overseeing $4.5 billion in assets. “There is a big question mark over how sustain- able the reform momentum is going to be.”

Aquino’s mostly steady, scan- dal-free administration has driv- en 6.3 percent average growth of the $285-billion economy, the fastest of Southeast Asia’s five main economies, and the World Bank expects it to remain the region’s pacesetter in 2016-17.

In Philippine politics, per- sonalities matter more than barely distinguishable parties or policies.

Steven Rood at the Asia Foundation, a think-tank, says investment often dips before elections – reflecting concerns that contracts already in place could be reviewed and re- awarded by an incoming ad- ministration.

Probably most at risk is lon- ger-term foreign direct invest- ment in the Philippines, which hit a record $6.2 billion in 2014, but Rood saw little prospect of a serious contraction.

“I don’t expect that current overall levels of investment will fall, since there are still opportunities to make money in the Philippines.”

Soo-Hai Lim, director of Asian equities at Baring Asset Management, would like assur- ances that Aquino’s successor won’t reverse policy improve- ments.

“You want to see those pro- cesses that he has put in place to improve transparency, to ensure that contracts are awarded on a consistent basis, are continued by the new administration,” he said. – Evelyn Macairan, Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy, Delon Porcalla

 

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