Less than a week before the start of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leader’s Meeting, President Benigno Aquino 3rd ordered changes in security planS for the event that will bring together 21 world leaders to the Philippines next week.
Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., director-general of the APEC 2015 National Organizing Committee, said the President ordered “further fine-tuning” of the preparations after he personally inspected the different venues to be used for the summit conferences.
“The President is very concerned about security as any host would be,” Paynor told reporters.
“Marami siyang mga nakita na kailangang baguhin so ipinapatupad ho natin ‘yon… kung ano ‘yung instructions niya gagawin natin [He saw many things that need to be changed … we follow what his instructions are] and then we try to soften that impact by many other ways,” he added.
Paynor said the government is in the final phase of preparations for the event.
“Because of the very high-profile nature of our guests and of course the nature of the world security today, we have to be ready and we have to be prepared,” he added.
As part of security preparations, Paynor said the committee has asked owners and operators of buildings along Roxas Boulevard to shut their windows during the event.
“Part of how we can secure leaders as they go or traverse Roxas Boulevard from their hotels coming into PICC [Philippine International Convention Center] is to have windows closed. This is a basic security practice worldwide. In New York, when the UN General Assembly commences in end of September toward October, they request all skyscrapers along Manhattan routes going to the UN to have their windows closed. That is a basic practice,” he added.
Paynor said road closures in Metro Manila will speed up the shuttling of APEC delegates to the events.
“There is no doubt that many of us will be inconvenienced but it is part of the hosting… They will not be able to move as freely as they are used to,” he added.
Presidents Barack Obama of the United States, Xi Jinping of China, Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Michelle Bachelet of Chile and Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan, Justin Trudeau of Canada and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia are among the world leaders flying to the November 18-19 event.
They also include the leaders of the other economies of the 21-member grouping, plus the President of Colombia, who will have observer status.
Paynor said the Presidential Security Group will handle security for all APEC leaders.
He added that security arrangements may be tweaked based on threat assessments.
“The security arrangements for the leaders have been planned by the Presidential Security Group. The threats and threat assessments have been conducted for each of the leader and, of course, we all know that they vary and differ depending on who the leader is,” Paynor said.
“So, the security preparations for each of the leader depending on their threat assessment and in collaboration and cooperation with their own security forces, we come up with a security plan,” he added.
Paynor said there are no plans to switch off mobile phone signals.
“As of now, there is no plan to have — or I have not been informed that there’s such a plan to put off–it is not actually jamming but it’s to put off the cell sites of our telcos.
Otherwise, it would be very difficult for all of us to communicate. So, that has been addressed and I think at this point, we will continue to have our signals,” he added.
Paynor said police personnel in the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) have been stretched and even complemented by those from other regions.
According to him, preparations for the final APEC meetings, which will start on Friday through the Concluding Senior Officials Meeting (CSOM), are 95-97 percent ready but they are still scrutinizing minute details to ensure the event’s success.
“The President is on top of everything and he has given us directive that our hosting must be a success from all points,” Paynor said.
“This is really a production of sorts where you have 21 different leaders who have common agenda, common schedule, but they have also their own. So we have to ensure that each economy’s agenda will be followed hassle-free, and that they come out of here feeling satisfied that they have done their work, that their objectives were met. And at that point, we can say that we have had a successful hosting of APEC 2015,” he added.
The military has raised its alert level to “blue status,” which means 50 percent of the troops should remain in their respective offices or camps.
Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of the military’s Public Affairs Office, said the alert level was raised to enable the military to immediately deploy soldiers in case the APEC security task force asks for reinforcements.
“If there is a need for warm bodies we can immediately respond,” Detoyato added.
Almost a thousand policemen would be deployed near Mall of Asia (MOA) in Pasay City.
Senior Supt. Joel Doria, chief of police of Pasay City and commander of Task Force MOA, said 478 policemen under his command will secure the welcome dinner to be hosted for about 1,000 delegates including the heads of states on November 18 at the MOA Arena.
He said the 478 police personnel will be deployed in the vicinity of MOA starting on Friday.
An additional 466 policemen from different police districts in Metro Manila will secure all entry points to the MOA.
Doria noted that the city government of Pasay has not issued any permit for anyone to hold a rally.
A “No Permit, No Rally” rule will be applied during the week-long leaders summit.
The Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) spokesman, Supt. Grace Tamayo, said 842 highway patrol policemen will escort the convoy of the leaders and delegates.
Tamayo added that 300 will augment the Presidential Security Group while 282 will join forces with the Police Security Protection Group. Around 227 will be deployed to man the APEC Lanes on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA).
She noted that the primary duty of the HPG during the APEC week is the route and convoy security along EDSA and on Roxas Boulevard.
Tamayo said that in each convoy of the APEC leader, there would be four motorcycles and two mobile patrol cars from HPG apart from the security vehicles from other security agencies.
NAIA lacks CCTV cameras
Former Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino has urged his former colleagues in the government to validate reports that the country’s premier airport does not have enough closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras after the Manila International Airport Authority failed to pay the contractor in full.
“MIAA should validate this report because the laglag-bala [bullet-planting] controversy has caused anxiety among local and foreign tourists,” Tolentino said in a statement.
“Let us not blame MIAA [Manila International Airport Authority] for this. What we need is cooperation among involved agencies,” he added.
The former MMDA chief claimed that the MIAA still owes the contractor about one-half of the contract amount.
A full-scale crash and rescue exercise aimed to test airport preparedness in emergency situations was conducted also on Thursday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Vicente Guerzon, MIAA senior assistant general manager, said the exercise is a security standard set by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
It was also conducted to ensure effective response by NAIA’s Emergency Services Department to an aircraft accident that requires planning, appropriate equipment and training of qualified personnel.
A crash simulation tested responsiveness of fire, medical, rescue and security personnel of the MIAA. A mock aircraft was set on fire as part of the exercise.
With FERNAN MARASIGAN, BENJIE L. VERGARA and PNA