Security preparations for ASEAN event in swing » Manila Bulletin News



By Analou De Vera


The security preparations for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings are in full swing, as the government is deploying close to 60,000 security and emergency personnel to prevent any possible local and international threats during the event.

“The coming week will serve as the culmination of our yearlong efforts. Various meetings were held during the past months but this week is even more important as the head of states and head of government of ASEAN member-nations as well as the dialogue partners will be attending,” said Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge Catalino S. Cuy, during the sendoff ceremony at the Rizal Park’s Quirino Grandstand yesterday morning.

Twenty-one world leaders and the United Nations Security Council secretary general Antonio Guterres are expected to arrive in the country on November 11.  “All the head of states of the 10 ASEAN member-nations will be here, together with other world leaders from Canada, Japan, [United States of] America, Russia, [and] China,” said executive secretary Salvador Medialdea during the event.

Members of the ASEAN Security Task Force (ASTF), composed of Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Philippine Air force (PA), demonstrated their respective land, water and air assets, during the ceremony.  A water canon salute was also performed, indicating the four colors (blue, red, white and yellow) of the ASEAN Flag, while a civil disturbance management was also reenacted.

On behalf of President Duterte, Medialdea reminded the security force to serve with full adherence. “I call on you to serve ng buong malasakit. Magbayanihan tayo for a peaceful and productive ASEAN. Philippines will count more or less another 10 years before we will have the opportunity to host this event. Let us conclude this year’s ASEAN hosting on a very good note,” he said.

‘No stranger to major events’

Cuy meanwhile said the Philippines is “no stranger to major events” as it already managed to secure previous international events such as the 2015 Papal Visit, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, and the 2016 Miss Universe.

“In this regard, this successes will not serve as a reason for us to be complacent but rather, will serve as a challenge for us to match, if not surpass our previous accomplishments. We are now facing even more serious challenges and threats that would require greater attention and efforts,” said Cuy.

Cuy also reminded the security contingent that “no task is too small to be of lesser importance than the other.”

  Culture of hospitality

According to Ambassador Marciano A. Paynor Jr., director general for operations, ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council, the event will be an avenue “to show the world and ASEAN the Filipino culture of hospitality.”

“The very foundation of practicality is security and safety, for how can we be hospitable if we are not safe and secure.  And these elements of security and safety start from when our visitors come and arrive at the airport, to the time they’ll go to their hotels, to the conference venues, and finally, when they return back to their port on their way home,” he said.

Paynor said everyone plays an important role for this event. “Isang napakalaking hamon ang ating sabay-sabay na haharapin. Hamon na muli nanamang susubok sa kakayahan ng ating hukbong militar, kapulisan, at iba pang sangay ng pamahalaan, kundi ng ating buong bansa. Hamon na tiwala ako na ating mapapagtagumpayan (A very big challenge that together we have to face. A challenge that will again retest the capability not only of our armed forces, police and other branches of government  but also of our country as a whole. A challenge that I trust we can surmount,” he said.

The ambassador also said the ASEAN chairmanship would show that the Philippines is “equipped and ready for such monumental undertaking.”

“For the fourth time that we host a formal summit, we have so far mounted the convergence of ASEAN leaders, highlighting our full capacity and stamping our own mark in international relations,” Paynor said.

 Filipino pride

Medialdea said they are confident that the security contingent would deliver their duties effectively. “We are set to deploy you in the key areas of Metro Manila, Pampanga and Bulacan. And I’m confident that with all the preparations and drills made, we have synchronized our forces and resources like clockworks,” he said.

“As you pack your gears and prepare your minds, I urge each one of you to pause even a few seconds and remember that you hold in your hands the pride of the Filipino people,” Medialdea reminded.

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