The Philippines is prepared to host the heads of government and state coming to the Philippines for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings that will be held from November 10 to 14.
In a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, October 24, Director General for Operations of the ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council Ambassador Marciano Paynor said they had been preparing for the hosting since about a year and a half ago, in order that the meeting would go “unhampered and hassle-free.”
“We are ready to accept and meet up all of the various heads of government, heads of state, heads of government who are coming here,” Paynor said.
He said a total of 21 heads of state and government and the United Nations Secretary General were expected to arrive in the country for the meetings.
“Thus far, we have not had any indication of anyone not coming… As long as they have not indicated that they are not coming, we assume that they are,” Paynor said.
According to Paynor, Clark International Airport will be utilized for the arrivals and departures of the leaders, following President Rodrigo Roa Duterete’s directive that no commercial traffic shall be affected at the Manila International Airport.
Paynor recalled that when the Philippines hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 2015, close to 450 flights were canceled and another 200 were affected during the arrival and departure of the world leaders.
To ensure preparedness for the motorcades, Paynor said they met with the local government executives of Pampanga, Bulacan, and Manila to discuss the implication of the leaders’ movements.
Proclamation No. 332 declared November 13 to 15 as special non-working holidays in the National Capital Region, as well as in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga.
“This is because leaders’ travels to and from Clark will take the NLEX and which will pass through these two provinces,” he said.
Paynor said the support and collaboration of local leaders were requested in terms of security, traffic, and cleanliness.
In terms of security, Paynor said full security alert would be implemented in areas where the leaders would be, while the whole country would also be on alert.
“All police stations, all Armed Forces camps, all other security agencies including Coast Guard et cetera will be on full alert,” he said.
PHL thanks US for help in battle vs. Maute
In the same press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government is grateful for the US government for helping the government defeat the ambition of the Islamic State-affiliated group to establish a caliphate in the country by providing their technical expertise, men and equipment that bolstered the capability of the military in its campaign against the Maute group.
He noted that after defeating Maute group, it cannot be denied that ISIS remains a global threat.
“It is therefore necessary for us to continue our cooperation and alliance with our friends in the international community to halt the spread of IS menace,” he said.
Abella said Malacañang appreciates the message of US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, recognizing the valiant efforts of the troops in bringing to an end the Maute terrorist group’s siege of Marawi City.
Palace: Impunity has no place in Duterte admin
Meanwhile, Abella said Malacañang takes note of the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2016 for acknowledging the efforts of the Philippine government in walking the extra mile for peace, particularly in what EU described as the “new momentum provided to the Mindanao peace process.”
Abella noted that while the report discussed the significant gains, it also mentioned what it called “a serious deterioration in respect for the right of life,” and so forth and cited the war on drugs and the prevailing culture of impunity of human right defenders and media workers.
The Palace official however noted that the EU’s report covers the period of last year’s elections and many of its alleged findings are a rehash of criticisms aired by the political party whose candidate lost to the President.
According to Abella, the allegations that the EU report highlights were made way before the Philippines’ third cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in May this year.
He said the Philippine government had already responded to these allegations during the said UPR, the report of which was unanimously adopted by the UNHRC last month.
“Again, for the public’s continuing awareness, we reiterate that the Philippines is investigating allegations of drug-related killings, extrajudicial deaths, and media violence to ensure the accountability of perpetrators,” Abella explained.
He said it had to be underscored that all the drug-related deaths arising from legitimate police operations had been done based on rules of engagement.
“Thus, while they remain as suspects, their violent resistance against police officers whose lives were put at risk are considered actionable offenses,” he said.
He cited the congressional hearings that were convened to look into these allegations and proved that the State did not sanction wanton and unjustified killings.
“Impunity does not have a place in this administration,” Abella said in conclusion. ###PND