20 leaders confirm attendance at APEC meet

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Twenty leaders have confirmed their attendance in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit from Nov. 18 to 19 in Manila.

Only China has yet to confirm its president’s attendance although Xi Jinping is expected.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday that the country’s preparations were no different from the ones carried out by previous APEC hosts.

She clarified that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals would be open on Nov. 18 because the leaders and delegates would already be in the country. The no-fly zone policy will  be enforced  on Nov. 17, 19 and 20.

She said commercial airlines  would know best the arrangements and passengers would have to check and plan their  trips carefully to avoid inconvenience.

Valte said those affected by the road closures could make use of alternate routes identified by the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

“We understand that, yes, there will be complaints; yes, there will be negative reactions, but we know that it’s part of what we must do,” Valte said as she reiterated the government’s appeal for patience and cooperation.

She said it would be good to showcase the Philippines now since it last hosted the summit in 1996. She noted it was different hearing about the country in the news rather than being here in person.

“So we have come full circle… I think they will see something better when they return this 2015,” she said.

Valte said protest actions would be allowed in designated areas and that organizers have given assurance that Internet service would be efficient.

Preparations not an ‘overkill’

Malacañang does not believe the security preparations for  the APEC summit are an “overkill” and pointed out that the country’s hosting of the event would showcase the Philippines’ economic progress.

Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras said over ANC’s Headstart that the Philippines was ready for the summit that would put the country in the international spotlight.

Almendras said the APEC had always been a non-political meeting and initiatives that would be agreed upon by the leaders during the summit could  help sustain the country’s economic growth.

APEC 2015 will have the theme “Building Inclusive Economies, Building A Better World” and will focus on inclusive growth with priorities that include: investing in human capital development, fostering small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) participation in regional and global markets, building sustainable and resilient communities amid disasters and enhancing regional economic integration agenda.

According to Almendras, APEC events will be held mostly in Makati City and Manila and that 8,000 to 10,000 delegates from the 21 member-economies are expected to arrive in the country.

He said the whole of Roxas Boulevard would be closed to traffic from Nov. 16 to 20.

Almendras said roads were closed not to “hide” the traffic situation in the country but to extend courtesy to guests. Hundreds of flights were also cancelled due to the APEC summit.

In a press briefing, Valte said they were hoping for the public’s cooperation and understanding with regard to the security preparations because it would be difficult to commit a mistake in hosting such a huge event. 

Valte said 20 leaders from different countries aside from President Aquino would have to be secured and “we want them to have a good experience here in the Philippines.”

Ready for APEC

The Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday said it is ready to secure the APEC summit.

“I’m currently conducting a walkthrough of our security preparations on the venue of the event, and also on the billeting areas and the route the convoy will take,” National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Joel Pagdilao said.

Meanwhile, the PNP is briefing Undersecretary Natalio Ecarma, deputy director general of the APEC committee on security, peace and order and emergency preparedness and response, on its preparations for the summit.

Representatives of government agencies involved in the APEC summit will hold a series of meetings to fine-tune preparations for the event.

Pagdilao said the advance party of the personal security of the leaders attending the APEC summit will arrive soon and will be given a briefing on the PNP’s security plan. – Aurea Calica, Non Alquitran

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