APEC Summit: A nightmare for Metro Manila residents
SPYBITS (The Philippine Star) - November 2, 2015 - 9:00am

Over 350 flights – both domestic and international – have been cancelled from Nov. 15 to 20 due to the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Summit with up to 21 global leaders expected to attend. Much earlier, the Department of Transportation and Communications had already “advised” the Philippine flag carriers about periodic runway restrictions that would be imposed for the duration of the summit as part of the tight security.

The flight cancellations are attempts to prevent “Airmageddon” considering the congestion that is already being experienced at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, exacerbated by unpredictable weather conditions that also cause flight delays – much to the chagrin of passengers like the ones who found themselves stranded for 10 hours when their Etihad plane had to be diverted to Clark International Airport because the aircraft was running out of fuel as it hovered in the air waiting for its turn to land at NAIA.

Traffic rerouting schemes will also be implemented along major roads, with express/VIP lanes to be accessible to APEC participants alone. To avoid the occurrence of “Carmageddon,” Malacañang is encouraging Metro Manila residents to go out of town or just take a “staycation.”

Many who have booked flights as early as July when the president announced that Nov. 18 and 19 would be non-working holidays were dismayed to find the earlier announcement had been revoked – because it means those days will be taken out of their leave credits. Worse, the flight cancellations have wreaked havoc on the holiday plans of many obviously because planes won’t be flying to their destinations. So just how Malacañang expects people to fly out of Metro Manila is the big question.

No private planes or helicopters will be allowed to fly within Metro Manila. Political candidates will have to take a break or travel by car but the ensuing traffic hassle because of all the re-routings could prove to be nightmarish with truck drivers also traversing the alternate routes taken by private vehicles. People already had a taste of what it could be like last Friday when a dry-run was conducted to test the security preparations for the summit. According to reports, thousands will be deployed to ensure the security of the delegates, and the MMDA alone is deploying 2,500 emergency and traffic personnel for the duration of the APEC.

One other option, however, is for people to have a “staycation” in hotels in the Metro, but all the good ones are now mostly fully booked by APEC delegates estimated at 7,000 – excluding the security personnel, the assistants and media teams from the participating countries. Besides, people will not want to be closeted inside their hotel rooms the whole time so they will still go out to “gimmick” places, which means they would still have to brave the traffic.

The APEC will also most likely become one big “jam session” – what with heads of state from countries like the US, Russia, China (although there is no clear indication yet if Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend) that have their own signal jammers as part of their security measures. It can be recalled that during the visit of Pope Francis last January, telcos interrupted their services at certain times as an added security measure because cellphones can be used as detonation devices for bombs and other explosives.

Metro Manila residents: be ready for a six-day nightmare.

El Presidente de Colombia arriving

Our friend Jorge “Nene” Araneta, who happens to be the Honorary Consul of Colombia (his wife Stella Marquez is the honorary Chargé d’Affaires), informed us Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has accepted the invitation of President Aquino to be an observer during the APEC Summit, and will be here for three days. It will be the first time a Colombian president visits the Philippines since diplomatic relations were established in 1946.

Both countries have many things in common, among them a shared Spanish heritage. Just like the Philippines, Colombia – which is the third most populous country in Latin America – is the oldest democracy in the region and has been showing steady economic growth. However, one of the major problems the Colombian government has had to face was the illegal drug trade involving powerful drug cartels. But in recent years, the Colombian government has been making a lot of progress as far as the war on drugs is concerned, particularly with the restoration of an extradition agreement with the United States.

In the last several years, over 1,300 drug lords have been sent to the US to face trafficking charges – creating leadership vacuums in these drug cartels and disrupting their operations. In fact, Colombia’s unrelenting efforts to whittle down the drug problem has been getting a lot of notice, prompting Marine Corps General and commander of the US Southern Command General John Kelly to describe the Latin American nation as a “bright shining example” for its unrelenting efforts to curb violence and continue the war on drug trafficking. Certainly, the Philippines can learn a lot from Colombia when it comes to fighting the drug menace.

Tesoros launches Great Women Brand

Leading Philippine handicraft store Tesoros celebrates its 70th year by marking  another milestone as it partners with the Echosi Foundation to launch the Great Women Brand of fashion accessories and apparel made by urban Filipina artisans in collaboration with women from indigenous/minority groups such as the T’boli and the Bagobo.

Tesoros has been a great supporter of Filipino artisans especially the young ones – a strong advocate of traditional art forms that showcase our proud culture and heritage, seen in such pieces as accent art pillow sets of T’boli t’nalak textiles mixed with digitally printed lithograph, or the Bagobo kinatkat fused into canvas tote bags or fabric bands made by the GWB female designers and collaborators.

***

Email: spybits08@gmail.com

ACIRC ASIA PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION LEADERS SUMMIT ATILDE BAGOBO CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING CLARK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS GREAT WOMEN BRAND METRO MANILA TESOROS
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