THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday said an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in Bohol on April 19 to 20 will go on as planned despite last week’s encounter between the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group and the combined forces of Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Senior Asean officials will travel to the resort island of Panglao in Bohol this week for meetings sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry. The Philippines holds the Asean chairmanship.
DILG Officer in Charge Catalino Cuy said that despite the clash in Bohol that killed three soldiers, one policeman and at least six Abu Sayyaf, the province “might as well be considered a well-fortified and most secure place in the country right now.”
“[The] military and the police are on top of the situation. We would like to assure the delegates, tourists and residents [in Bohol]that we are exerting our best efforts for Bohol,” Cuy said in a statement.
He echoed a statement by Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto that the situation in Inabanga, Bohol “was contained” and “did not affect the rest of Bohol or the rest of the country.”
Inabanga, where the clash occurred, is about 80 kilometers from the venue of the Asean meetings in Panglao Island.
Last Monday, PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa confirmed a terror threat in Central Visayas after the United States embassy in Manila warned US tourists against going to Cebu and Bohol.
The Asean senior officials’ meetings will take place at the Hennan Resort in Panglao.
Cuy disclosed that about 4,000 personnel from the PNP, AFP, emergency response units and various agencies would be deployed during the Asean meetings in Bohol, which are expected to have around 200 delegates.
A total of 141 ministerial, senior official and technical working group meetings are expected to be conducted throughout the year.
From April 26 up to 29, Metro Manila will host the 30th Asean Summit, with the major event on the last day to be held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
The 31st Asean Summit will be on November 10 to 14 in Clark, Pampanga, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the 10-nation bloc.