21 state leaders to attend Asean meetings
A total of 21 heads of state and government are coming to the Philippines next month for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and other related meetings that President Duterte will host.
Aside from the Asean Summit, the country will host the East Asia Summit and the 40th anniversary of the Asean’s collaboration with the European Union and with Canada.
Among the leaders expected are US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the heads of the Asean member-states.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is also set to join the world leaders, while Timor Leste will send a representative, according to Marciano Paynor Jr., director general for operations of the Asean 2017 National Organizing Committee.
Mr. Duterte will have four or five bilateral meetings.
The President’s partner, Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, will be the official hostess in social events and will be in charge of the leaders’ spouses, Paynor said.
The leaders will all be flying and departing from Clark International Airport in Pampanga province so as not to disrupt commercial flights at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Metro Manila. This was upon the directive of Mr. Duterte himself, Paynor said.
He noted that when the country hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2015, close to 450 flights at Naia were canceled and another 200 were affected when world leaders were arriving and departing because there could be no movements when their planes were moving.
One delegation at that time required that there be no movement in the air or on the ground an hour before arrival and 30 minutes afterward, Paynor noted.
Mr. Duterte, who was Davao City mayor at that time, was among those affected by the flight cancellations and traffic.
“I think he had to walk some distance to get to his car. So that mayor became President. He said, ‘OK, we will host but do not affect traffic,’” Paynor said.
As for the commercial flights in Clark, which are fewer, he said the government was talking with the affected airlines on how to resolve the issue with them. The administration will try not to disrupt their operations, he said.
Most of the events for the Asean Summit and related meetings will be in Metro Manila, though there will be a few meetings in Clark.
The world leaders and their spouses are expected to be given clothing as gifts for the event, Paynor said.
The Philippines will be on the highest alert for the gathering.
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