THE government mobilized on Sunday a 40,000-strong contingent as it started implementing an elaborate security plan for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Leaders’ Summit that will be held this week in Pasay City.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) completed their final preparations for the summit to be held from April 26 to 29 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
Undersecretary Catalino Cuy, Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Interior and Local Government, said 40,877 personnel from 21 agencies comprise the ASEAN 2017 Committee on Security, Peace and Order, Emergency Preparedness and Response (CSPOEPR) which he headed.
Security officials have not detected any terror threat in Metro Manila but this did not stop the government from deploying thousands of soldiers and policemen to secure delegates and keep the peace during the summit.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde said 26,000 police and military personnel from five police districts in Metro Manila and nearby regions will be deployed in areas surrounding the PICC.
On top of that, around 15,000 state workers from various government agencies will serve as “force multipliers” to support police and military personnel.
Augmentation forces were also sent from the Ilocos regions, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog region.
A “no fly zone” and “no sail zone” will also be implemented during the duration of the summit.
Members of the Presidential Security Group, the National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Immigration, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, Manila International Airport Authority, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and personnel from the Department of Public Works and Highways, Metro Manila Development Authority, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Land Transportation Office, Department of Transportation and Department of Tourism will also help secure delegates and the summit venue.
ASEAN Security Task Force Director Napoleon Taas will also deploy security personnel to act as close-in security for Asean delegates.
Security at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be tightened, while security officials will patrol Manila Bay and the Pasig River.
On Sunday, Ambassador Marciano A. Paynor Jr. Director General for Operations of ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council (NOC), and other top security officials led the official activation and send-off ceremony for the 40,000-strong ASEAN 2017 security team at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.
PNP chief Ronald de la Rosa said the police fine-tuned almost every aspect and detail of the elaborate security operation through the Asean Security Task Force in coordination with the Asean-NOC and participating agencies.
Albayalde on Sunday said security in Metro Manila is so tight that not even the Maute Group, a local terror group, has the capacity to attack the summit.
Before the Asean leaders’ meeting on April 29, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and President Joko Widodo of Indonesia will hold state visits in the country on April 27 and April 28, respectively.
“Preparations are now in full swing for all activities scheduled [this]week in Manila,” said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a statement on Sunday.
“The President looks forward to meeting His Majesty the Sultan and President Widodo, respectively, to build on the gains achieved during President Duterte’s visits to Bandar Seri Begawan and Jakarta,” Abella added.
Paynor said the agenda for the separate meetings of Duterte with the two leaders will be specific to issues that relate to each country.
“For Indonesia I think it will be a follow-up of what President Duterte and President Widodo had talked about in Jakarta when the President went there for a visit. This is a return state visit of President Widodo. And I would imagine that security of our sea lanes, cross-border traffic and patrol, agriculture, may be discussed,” Paynor said.
“With Brunei, similar issues that I feel will just be reiterated and perhaps further elucidated,” he added.
Paynor said Widodo is also expected to join Duterte in the launch of the Davao-General Santos-Bitung Roll-on Roll-off sea linkage route in Davao City on April 30.
With report from PNA