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Tight security in place for Asean Summit

SECURING ASEAN Members of the SWAT police team begin security watch. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Authorities have declared a “no sail zone” in Manila Bay starting on Sunday and banned all trucks from Edsa and two expressways north of Manila from Nov. 12 as security preparations for next week’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit shifted into high gear.

In an advisory issued on Saturday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said no watercraft, not even fishing bancas, would be allowed to sail in Manila Bay, which would be patrolled by Navy and Coast Guard vessels and assault craft.

“A ‘no sail zone’ will be set one mile from the shoreline of H2O Hotel in Manila to Okada Hotel in New Seaside Drive in Parañaque City from Nov. 5 to 16,” the PCG said.

The 12-day sailing ban is the first of several measures to be implemented to secure the venues for the dignitaries attending the three-day 31st Asean Summit from Nov. 10 to 14.

The entire Cultural Center of the Philippines complex, designated as “Asean Delegates Zone,” will be closed to traffic from Nov. 10 to 15.

Security officials said some 60,000 police and military personnel would be deployed to areas in Metro Manila and Clark Field in Pampanga, where the majority of heads of state would be flown in.

A still undetermined number of Army battalions and armor would be deployed near the venues in Manila and Pampanga, the officials added.

The truck ban, which will be lifted three days later on Nov. 15,  covers the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and Edsa, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government officer in charge Catalino Cuy.

Cuy said that trucks and closed vans would not be allowed to pass through SCTEx and NLEx, between Clark Freeport and Balintawak. They would also be banned from Edsa between Balintawak and Magallanes.

The truck ban would ensure the smooth flow of traffic for the delegates’ convoys, he said.

Cuy also advised motorists to expect intermittent traffic stops from Nov. 11 to 15 in Asean lanes in Makati City, particularly on Arnaiz Avenue, Makati Avenue and Parkway Drive.

“We urge the public to veer away from the said areas and take alternate routes to avoid being inconvenienced by the heavy traffic while the Asean Summit is ongoing,” Cuy said.

Traffic disruptions are also expected during the same period on Pasay Road and portions of Edsa in Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong and Quezon City.

Rerouting will be undertaken on the same dates on Sen. Jose W. Diokno Boulevard as well as on Jalandoni, V. Sotto, Bukaneg and A. Dela Rama Streets in Pasay City.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said work crews were expected to finish sprucing up Metro Manila’s major roads and alternate routes by Friday.

“We’ve done almost everything. We repainted roads and patched small potholes, and installed lights in Ayala Tunnel,” said Melvin Navarro, DPWH director for the National Capital Region.

In its advisory, the PCG said they would also enforce a “controlled zone” 1.6 kilometers from H2O Hotel to the mouth of Pasig River.

“All vessels passing the controlled zone may not sail in the area unless permitted and escorted by PCG personnel,” it said.

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