LET’S make one thing perfectly clear: Our criticism of the APEC summit – the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, to use its proper name – is in no way directed at the organization or the concept of APEC itself. The 21-nation collective linking both sides of the Pacific Ocean is a valuable forum for sharing ideas and advancing regional and global initiatives that benefit some citizens in the member countries, which are nearly half the world’s population. In a world too often filled with conflict and tension, frameworks for cooperation like APEC are worthy endeavors that deserve our support, and we in The Times give it unreservedly.
Our appreciation for the APEC, however, in no way whatsoever is extended to the manner President BS Aquino 3rd and his Administration have managed the hosting of the main summit this week in Metro Manila. One can choose any disruptive event in memory – the EDSA revolutions, any of the handful of terrorist attacks that have occurred throughout the years, other large-scale visits by world leaders such as Pope Francis earlier this year or Pope John Paul II years earlier, or any one of dozens of typhoons or other natural disasters that have affected the metropolis – and one would be very hard put indeed to recall any that have caused such catastrophic upheaval as the one we are suffering through now.
It is all the more insulting because the current nightmare is entirely manmade, directed by an evident nincompoop whose willfully misanthropic disconnection from the reality of everyday life for his 100-plus million subjects is so crass and destructive it could probably make Satan himself weep in sheer frustration at its excess.
By mid-morning Monday, it became quite clear that the Aquino Administration’s hosting of APEC was a completely appalling, unmitigated disaster. We will not say “the Philippines’ hosting” because we are quite certain no one outside the thickly-insulated cocoon of PNoy’s Palace would approve of doing things so grossly incompetently, thoughtlessly and insensitively as Aquino has. The social media and the mainstream press alike quickly overflowed with horror stories from commuters, most of whom simply do not have the financial freedom and leisure time to follow the authorities’ suggestion to just abandon their work for four or five days.
Motorists were trapped for hours on completely paralyzed roads. Commuters who rely on public transportation – who, the callous apparatchiks of the Aquino regime need to be reminded, make up 65 to 70 percent of the population – suffered even greater hardships, with thousands being forced to walk for kilometers in the hot sun to reach their destinations. A story that was widely circulated Monday afternoon and evening told of one unfortunate young lady who was forced to give birth on the sidewalk outside City of Dreams in Pasay, unable to reach the hospital in time or have any medical help reach her location.
The situation seemed to grow even worse on Monday evening and into Tuesday, as rain showers (despite forecasts of clear skies throughout the week) added to the misery of thousands who, having gone to extraordinary lengths to reach the city in the morning, found themselves trapped, with no guidance being available from police or MMDA
personnel as to how they might find their way home.
The situation is intolerable, unacceptable, and dangerous, and all the more distressing because it could have been completely avoided. While we are pleased that the Philippines is hosting the APEC, and look forward to the outcomes of the talks, we cannot help but think the sacrifices imposed on the Filipino people are not worth it.
The APEC leaders should rest assured, however, that the only one among them we hold responsible for this is the one who has been here all along, and not any of our esteemed guests.