The Philippines is about 97 percent ready to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Summit next week.
The leaders’ meeting will be held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City on November 18 and 19.
Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., director general of the APEC National Organizing Council, said the country is almost fully prepared to receive visiting heads of states.
“I think we are about anywhere from 95-97 percent ready. What we are doing now is just fine-tuning all of the details that need to be done in an undertaking as huge as this,” Paynor told reporters.
“We are prepared to receive 20 economic leaders from the various members of APEC plus one head of state of another country, well, specifically Colombia, who will be attending a meeting with the leaders,” he said.
Paynor noted that security preparations will be at the “highest level” similar to those taken during Pope Francis’ visit in January.
He appealed for public cooperation and patience over the heavy traffic to be caused by the arrival of 20 world leaders.
Paynor asked protesters not to “embarrass” the Philippines as this year’s host country of the summit.
“Sa paggalang na lang sa mga bisita natin, huwag na natin i-embarrass kasi hindi lang ang bisita ang na-e-embarrass. More than anyone else, tayo, as host. Parang inimbita mo sa bahay mo tapos i-insultuhin mo [Let’s respect our visitors. Let’s not embarrass them because it’s not just them who would get embarrassed. More than anyone else, it’s us the hosts who will lose face. It’s like you invited somebody into your home then you’ll insult your guest],” he said.
“Kung may issue, puwede naman pag-usapan pero para hiyain mo dahil may ibang objective, bastusan ‘yun di ba [If you have an issue against them, that can be discussed but not to the point of humiliating them because you have a different objective. That’s being disrespectful, isn’t it]? I mean [that’s] as plain and as undiplomatic as I can put it,” Paynor added.
The Philippines last hosted an APEC summit in 1996.
The usual heavy traffic in Metro Manila became heavier after the Presidential Security Group (PSG) held a dry-run on Monday afternoon on how the so-called APEC Lanes will work.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Emerson Carlos said the simulation was held from 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. from EDSA-Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City to Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City going to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) and Mall of Asia (MOA).
There were no road closures during the simulation.
Carlos, however, clarified that the MMDA has no participation during the simulation.
During the five-day APEC summit, both lanes on Roxas Boulevard (from Katigbak to MIA/NAIA Road) will be fully closed starting 12:01 a.m. of November 16 to 20.
WITH RITCHIE A. HORARIO