The Philippines is on track in its preparations for hosting an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November this year, a senior official from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.
Laura del Rosario, DFA undersecretary for international economic relations, told reporters that the Philippines is on time in preparing for the APEC meeting by the end of this year.
The Philippines first hosted an APEC summit in 1996 but the government then crammed to build infrastructure and facilities for thousands of delegates who were expected to attend.
But this year, del Rosario said, the Philippines is better prepared to play host to APEC’s 21 member-economies.
“The difference between the past APEC [summit here]and this year is we are not building anything just for APEC. What we are doing is we are riding on the projects of the administration and we are using these projects [for the APEC gathering],” she explained.
The construction along Roxas Boulevard, for example, which is not solely for the summit, is a redevelopment project by the Department of Tourism and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
In Iloilo City, delegates will be using a convention center there, del Rosario said.
Delegates in Cebu, however, would have to settle for a temporary airport in Cebu City because the main one is undergoing renovation.
The APEC Summit of Leaders is scheduled for November 18 and 19, the senior officials’ meeting will be held on November 14 and 15 and the ministerial meetings on November 16 and 17.
The APEC is composed of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Canada, United States, Chinese Taipei, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russia, and Vietnam.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Secretariat, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat stand as observers.
Meanwhile, del Rosario said APEC will not be affected by the current debt crisis in Greece.
“Not at all because that’s their problem. Remember it’s a region. What happens in [the European Union]remains in EU. That’s their monetary policy,” she noted.
Greece has accepted a €86-billion bailout from the European Union after its latest bailout expired and it missed a €1.6 billion due payment to the International Monetary Fund.
Without the bailout, Greece could have been kicked out of the Eurozone.
This is the reason why APEC could not pattern itself after the EU, del Rosario said.
“Because one, [their]political systems is one–democratically elected. [Us, sometimes communist, monarchy, sometimes dictator. Second, their value system is one–liberty, equality. [But ours, oppressive],” she explained.
“They are open, we are not. So how can we be like them? The only thing we can follow is to have one market,” the undersecretary said.
What the APEC can learn from these differences is that “we should not go there.”
BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON