The Philippine government put its police and military on full alert Saturday and vowed “higher security” for world leaders at an economic summit in Manila next week after gunmen killed more than 120 people in Paris.
US President Barack Obama is set to join the leaders of China, Japan, Australia, Canada and 15 others at an annual Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) summit in Manila on November 18 and 19.
“There is no credible threat registered at this time, but let us all be cooperative and vigilant,” President Benigno Aquino 3rd said, adding the police were on alert and the security forces were evaluating security procedures.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on government radio that Aquino had put the entire 120,000-strong national police on “full alert”, which she said was standard security procedure after major terror attacks.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our visitors and our people. This is a message that has been sent (to the visiting APEC leaders) not just in light of the incidents in Paris,” she added.
Asked about the implications of the Paris attacks on the APEC summit, Foreign Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, a member of the organizing committee, said by text: “Higher security.”
President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Saturday afternoon convened security officials at the Bahay Pangarap, his official residence, and reviewed measures being rolled out.
“Yes the President convened the security cluster in light of the recent developments,” Valte told reporters.
Valte said that Aquino “wanted to make to ensure that all out preparations are in place and all contingencies have been planned for.
“As he said, it is better to be over-prepared than caught under-prepared,” she said.
Among those in the meeting, which started at 1 p.m. and lasted for an hour and a half, were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ricardo Marquez, and former AFP chief of staff Emmanuel Bautista.
Authorities have swept about 20,000 homeless from the streets, cancelled more than a thousand flights, deployed 18,000 policemen and declared public holidays in Metro Manila to ensure a safe and efficient summit, the organizers have said.
Major streets in the usually chaotic capital are being closed to traffic to speed up the shuttling of delegates, with police asking building owners to close their windows to prevent their use by snipers.
Early on Saturday the Philippine Marines deployed anti-aircraft guns and riot police around the main summit venue as police conducted a full rehearsal of the visiting leaders’ motorcades to the summit venues and their hotels.
Air force helicopters flew low overhead while naval gunboats patrolled the waters of nearby Manila Bay.
The police on Saturday held a security simulation exercise.
PNP director for operations, Chief Supt. Jonathan Miano said the multi-agency task force held a dry run on how key delegates are shuttled from their designated hotels to official venues.
The Venues for the APEC 2015 Summit meet were at the SM Mall of Asia Arena and the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) both in Pasay City.
“We’re practicing so we can synchronize the movement of each convoy and to avoid being caught up in traffic,” Miano said.
“We’ll test if we can monitor the movement of the convoy. We have CCTV (closed-circuit television) monitoring,” Miano said as he explain that they want to know how fast they can respond to problems they may encounter.
Among the disruptions that the police are expecting are rallies, vehicle problems and collisions.
“The challenge that we see now is our fellow citizens who want to stage rallies and block the routes,” Miano said.