It’s all systems go for today’s opening of the 112th International Parliamentary Union (IPU) summit.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) declared yesterday tighter security measures would be in place to ensure the safety of the 1,400 delegates and lawmakers from 145 countries attending the five-day conference.
Operating under the PNP’s "Task Force Parliament" headed by Deputy Director General Reynaldo Velasco, police officers personally detailed to escort the delegates will be complemented by 15,000 other policemen from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and 3,000 soldiers from the military’s National Capital Region Command (NCRCom).
PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil said a well-laid security plan had been laid out.
"We are just conducting last-minute review of the security," Bataoil said.
He said plans had been laid out to secure the delegates and their parties who began arriving yesterday.
His Royal Highness Prince Norodom Rannariddh of Cambodia, for example, arrived yesterday afternoon, flying in to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from Phnom Phen in a six-seater King Air C-90. He was welcomed by his country’s envoy to the Philippines, Ok Socheat.
Anti-riot policemen have been deployed at various areas following reports that some militant groups will be conducting mass protest actions near the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) where the IPU summit will be held, Bataoil said.
"We at the PNP are asking them (the rally organizers) to just translate their grievances into writing and present them before the assembly," Bataoil said.
He said the PNP had mapped contingencies for any worst-case scenario that might arise in the event of a terror attack.
"For the purposes of planning for the security arrangements, we are anticipating the worst scenario, but generally, we are hoping for the best outcome," Bataoil said.
Bataoil emphasized security will be "extra tight" and would include areas surrounding the PICC in Pasay City and other key areas and cities across the country to be visited by the delegates.
He said policemen also had been deployed at the 13 hotels in Manila and six others in Makati City where the delegates are billeted.
"These areas will be secured by elements of the five task groups of Task Force Parliament," Bataoil said.
Plainclothes policemen and "secret marshals" have been deployed as part of beefed-up security measures.
President Arroyo will be the guest of honor along with the nation’s leaders and lawmakers.
Senate President and IPU host Franklin Drilon will lead the delegates with IPU president Sergio Paez Verdugo and IPU secretary general Anders Johnsson in affirming the 44 heads of parliaments from 145 member-countries.