APEC organizers appeal for public cooperation
APEC organizers appeal for public cooperation
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - High-level business dialogue and security dry runs ushered the start yesterday of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila.                                                                                                                       

Organizers assured the public that President Aquino is on top of the situation as the country awaits the arrival of leaders of the 21-member APEC economies next week.

They will be covered by customized security arrangement as keeping them safe would be the top challenge to the country in its hosting of the event, organizers said.

Even windows of the hotels and buildings on Roxas Boulevard would be ordered closed while leaders hold their meetings at the Philippine International Convention Center on Nov. 18 to 19, according to APEC-National Organizing Council director general Marciano Paynor Jr.

While reiterating his appeal for understanding, Paynor said the people should look at the gains the country would derive from the event and not just at the inconvenience it would cause.

Paynor also said the President is “very concerned” about security of the leaders and delegates “as any host would be.”

“On our part, we will do his instructions and then we try to soften that impact by many other ways, part of it is that we are appealing to our fellowmen’s understanding because we will really be inconvenienced,” Paynor said.

“But what I can assure all of you is that the President is on top of everything and he has given us directives that our hosting must be a success from all points of view,” he added.

He disclosed that senior officials of the APEC member-economies started arriving Wednesday for their own meetings prior to the leaders’ summit.

In a message during the opening of the APEC Expo Philippines 2015 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Filipinos “pride ourselves in extending the best of the warmth of our hospitality to all our friends and visitors.”

While all the leaders would be accorded “the same security package,” Paynor said “we tweak the security arrangements depending on threat assessment on the particular leader who is coming.”

“So you have the standard, and then we tweak it in the event that we are informed that a leader has a lot of security threats,” Paynor said.

Paynor said the significance of APEC could not be downplayed as the country’s trade with its member-economies comprised 80 percent of the total.

“The average growth of the collective APEC economies is eight percent annually since 1989 up to now,” he said.

“So being a member of such a group where the economy is going up and up and up, then I think even by just simple deduction, it means that there is something in it for us,” Paynor said.

“Inconvenience is actually only for next week. We have to remember that we have hosted APEC since December of 2014 and we have had up until now 38 various different meetings, clusters of meetings, totaling all together about 200 plus,” he said.

Security blanket

Some 800 policemen will secure ministers and wives of economic leaders attending the APEC summit.

Heads of state would be secured by members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).

Police Security Protection Group (PSPG) spokesman Supt. Rogelio Simon said all the security measures for the ministers and wives of economic leaders are all set.

“The full deployment as far as the task group security delegate is concerned is ongoing. All the PSPG personnel, about 700, is 100 percent ready for deployment anytime,” Simon added.

APEC attendees are expected to reach more than 7,200. The number only represents the official delegates and does not include foreign media delegations.

Earlier, the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) said about 800 HPG personnel would be deployed to ensure smooth flow of traffic for the arrival of the delegates.

Pasay City Police chief Sr. Supt. Joel Doria said 478 police personnel would be assigned around the MOA Arena area where the leaers’ welcome reception would be held.

Half of the troops in Metro Manila are ready for immediate deployment as part of a “blue alert” status in line with security preparations for the APEC summit next week.

Col. Noel Detoyato, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, declined to reveal the exact number of troops involved but stressed it would be enough to deal with any emergency situation.

“We have a substantial number, I cannot give you the exact number but rest assured we have a substantial number…that can respond to any contingency,” Detoyato said.

“We have taken into consideration all class of contingencies,” he added, but maintaining the AFP has not monitored any specific threat to disrupt the APEC summit. – With Jaime Laude, Rudy Santos, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Mike Frialde, Ric Sapnu, Michelle Zoleta, Pia Lee-Brago

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