Bomb scare reported at Naia hours before Obama, others fly out
Hours before US President Barack Obama and other world leaders flew out of Manila on Friday, K-9 dogs were sniffing every corner of the airport looking for bombs.
The especially trained dogs began their sweeping operation after a man called the telephone operator at Ninoy Aquino International Airport saying bombs had been planted around the Naia complex.
The “threat” turned out to be a hoax and Obama and the remaining eight other participants of the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) economic leaders summit safely left on schedule.
Eschewing a red carpet sendoff, Obama boarded Air Force One, a Boeing 747, at past noon after a quick exchange with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia and other VIPs.
Obama flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at 12:17 p.m. to take part in the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) and East Asia summits.
Kept away from Obama
Media members were told to be at the airport six hours before Obama’s flight so they could undergo US Secret Service inspection.
But seconds before Obama stepped out of a Marine One presidential chopper that brought him to the airport, a liaison officer told the media people positioned at a ramp near the tarmac that US officials no longer wanted any press coverage.
Then Obama stepped out of his chopper, gave a quick wave and walked toward Air Force One, near where Philippine officials were waiting to send him off.
During his Manila visit, Obama pledged two ships for the Philippine Navy to boost its security capabilities, especially in the disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea, where Manila is locked in a territorial dispute with China.
Trudeau and trash
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who left after 9 a.m., bade goodbye with the promise to work on loopholes in his country’s domestic laws to resolve the issue of trash illegally shipped to the Philippines.
“Thank you. Mabuhay,” the 43-year-old Trudeau said while waving to Filipinos, mostly female airport personnel swooning over him and eager to take his photos.
Before boarding the plane, Trudeau had his picture taken with Canadian Embassy employees.
The airport personnel and the media were kept meters away from Trudeau. “Sir, sir,” the women called, hoping he would go toward them.
He beamed and waved to them before shaking hands with Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Neil Reeder and his wife, and with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.
Trudeau was leaving behind him the issue of the illegal dumping of the trash shipped from Canada.
Answering a question about the trash dispute during a press conference on Thursday night, Trudeau promised to look into the loopholes in Canada’s domestic laws to avoid similar cases in the future.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said the shipment of trash was a violation of the Basel Convention on hazardous wastes and their disposal.
The Philippines has filed diplomatic protests against Canada over the rubbish stinking in the ports of Manila and Subic, portions of which were dumped in Tarlac province.
Caller’s location tracked
Explaining the security concerns, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Assistant Senior General Manager Vicente Guerzon Jr. said airport officials validate all security threats, which include prank calls.
“We do not ignore them and we validate,” he said.
He said the authorities had traced the location of the caller and law enforcement officials were tracking him down.
Last to leave
At Naia Terminal 1, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Trade Minister Thomas Trikasih Lembong left around 10 a.m. on an Avro RJ85 aircraft.
Soon after, Taiwan’s Vice President Vincent Siew, designated by President Ma Ying-jeou as a special envoy to the Apec summit, left on a Boeing 737.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye flew out on a Korean Air Force Boeing 747 before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left on Japan’s Air Force One, a Boeing 747-400 (744).
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who had pushed for all Apec member-economies to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), left past noon on a New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757.
The TPP is a US-initiated free trade agreement among Pacific Rim countries Singapore, New Zealand, Brunei and Chile.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who represented President Vladimir Putin, was the last to fly out of the Philippines at past 2 p.m. on an Ilyushin-96, a Russian-made aircraft.
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