Obama, Trudeau, Putin coming to PH
The Philippines is gearing up for the “biggest show coming to town,” with at least 10 world leaders confirming their attendance at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, culminating in an Apec Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM) hosted by President Aquino.
Among those expected to come for the AELM are US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Wednesday at a press briefing.
Made up of 21 member-economies, Apec has promoted free trade in the Asia Pacific since 1989.
Valte said more than 10,000 delegates were expected from the 21 member-economies, describing the Philippine hosting of the event as the “biggest for any Apec.”
As part of the preparations, the Aquino administration is adopting security arrangements, special traffic lanes for delegates and a ban on airline flights for several days, among other measures that some sectors said would cause inconvenience to the public.
“Again, we are asking for the people’s understanding and their cooperation. I think all of us want the government to be able to hold the upcoming Apec Summit without any hitches,” Valte said.
She said this was the reason an information campaign was launched early to allow the public to prepare for the weeklong event, the highlight of which would be the AELM on Nov. 18 and 19.
“We understand that yes, there will be complaints; yes, there will be negative reactions, but we know that it’s part of what we must do,” Valte said.
She compared the Philippine Apec preparations with those undertaken in the past by host economies in China, Indonesia, Honolulu and Russia, where airports, for example, imposed additional security measures.
“We are not just emulating [them]. We understand the kind of preparations done by a host economy and we want to have it smoothly and without any glitches,” she said.
Bandwidth for delegates
The Apec preparations began as early as December 2013 and all things are being considered, including the availability of enough bandwidth for all delegates. The media center alone is expected to host some 4,000 journalists from the different member-economies.
“Everybody knows that the biggest show is coming to town and we need to be prepared for it,” Valte said.
The Apec preparations have not been spared from questions on the controversial “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) scam at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
The controversy is being addressed not only because guests are coming from all over the world for the Apec but also because “we have citizens who have complained of being victims of alleged extortionists,” Valte said.
“So that alone is enough for government to move,” she said.
Permits for rallies
Antigovernment and anti-Apec protests are expected and the same rules will apply for the staging of demonstrations.
Valte said protesters should first get permits to hold rallies from the local government units where they would hold their protest actions.
Valte said the government was “anticipating the same issues these groups have raised even in 1996” when the Philippines last hosted an Apec Economic Leaders Meeting.
“I took a look at the issues that they were raising and a lot of them are ideological in the sense that they don’t want free trade. So when I say that the issues are the same as in 1996, they were against the very existence of Apec,” she said.
“Until now, they don’t want free trade. They don’t want to open the country to the entry of other services, other products, in the same way that we are allowed mobility under some of the agreements that we’ve had. Some of the issues are policy differences,” Valte said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.