Philip­pines boosts se­cu­rity ahead of eco­nomic sum­mit

125,000-mem­ber force on ‘full alert’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MANILA: The Philip­pines put its mil­i­tary and po­lice on full alert yes­ter­day and pledged “higher se­cu­rity” for world lead­ers meet­ing at an eco­nomic sum­mit in Manila next week af­ter gun­men killed more than 120 peo­ple in Paris. US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama is set to join the lead­ers of China, Ja­pan, Aus­tralia, Canada and 15 other coun­tries at an an­nual Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Con­fer­ence sum­mit in Manila on Novem­ber 18-19. “There is no cred­i­ble threat reg­is­tered at this time, but let us all be co­op­er­a­tive and vig­i­lant,” Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino said in a state­ment, also ex­press­ing sol­i­dar­ity with France af­ter gun­men shout­ing “Al­lahu akbar” mas­sa­cred scores of din­ers and con­cert-go­ers across Paris.

The Filipino leader later met with his top se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers, his spokes­woman Abi­gail Valte told re­porters. “Pres­i­dent Aquino wanted to en­sure that all our prepa­ra­tions are in place and all con­tin­gen­cies have been planned for,” she said. The Philip­pine mil­i­tary put the 125,000-mem­ber force on “full alert” yes­ter­day, hours af­ter a sim­i­lar an­nounce­ment by the 150,000-strong na­tional po­lice. “The alert sta­tus was also raised... as a mat­ter of pro­ce­dure fol­low­ing any in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent such as this morn­ing’s ter­ror­ist at­tack in Paris,” mil­i­tary spokesman Colonel Resti­tuto Padilla said in a state­ment. “Philip­pine APEC se­cu­rity plan­ners are now se­ri­ously look­ing into this re­cent in­ci­dent to en­sure our se­cu­rity prepa­ra­tions are ap­pro­pri­ately up­graded.”

Filipino se­cu­rity forces con­ducted a mock ter­ror­ist at­tack and re­sponse at the APEC venue yes­ter­day, with about a hun­dred Spe­cial Forces troops jump­ing out of a mil­i­tary he­li­copter and storm­ing the build­ing. Other mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces lay on the pave­ment out­side the Philip­pine In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, act­ing out the role of blood­ied civil­ian ca­su­al­ties. Philip­pine marines also de­ployed anti-air­craft guns and riot po­lice around the sum­mit venue as au­thor­i­ties con­ducted a full re­hearsal of the vis­it­ing lead­ers’ mo­tor­cades trav­el­ling be­tween the sum­mit venues and their ho­tels. Mil­i­tary he­li­copters flew low over­head while naval gun­boats pa­trolled the wa­ters of nearby Manila Bay.

Height­ened se­cu­rity

Asked about the im­pli­ca­tions of the Paris at­tacks on the APEC sum­mit, For­eign Un­der­sec­re­tary Laura del Rosario, a mem­ber of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee said by text: “Higher se­cu­rity.” Na­tional po­lice spokesman Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Wil­ben Mayor said the au­thor­i­ties “have not mon­i­tored any spe­cific or direct threat” to the coun­try. “Nonethe­less, tar­geth­ard­en­ing mea­sures on vi­tal in­stal­la­tions, par­tic­u­larly sea ports, air­ports and our rail sys­tems have been fur­ther el­e­vated to max­i­mize de­ter­rence against un­forseen events,” he said in a state­ment. The Philip­pines has can­celled more than a thou­sand flights, de­ployed 18,000 po­lice, and de­clared pub­lic hol­i­days in Manila to en­sure a safe and ef­fi­cient sum­mit, the or­ga­niz­ers have said.

Ma­jor streets in the usu­ally chaotic cap­i­tal are be­ing closed to traf­fic to speed up the shut­tling of del­e­gates, with po­lice ask­ing build­ing own­ers to close their win­dows to pre­vent their use by snipers. The Philip­pines has a long history of Is­lamic mil­i­tancy in a southern re­gion about 1,000 kilo­me­ters from Manila, al­though ex­trem­ists have also car­ried out deadly at­tacks in the cap­i­tal. Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf gun­men killed more than 100 peo­ple when they fire­bombed a ferry on Manila Bay in 2004, while the group reg­u­larly kid­naps for­eign tourists and bombs churches and shop­ping malls in the south. — AFP

MANILA: Mem­bers of the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice Spe­cial Ac­tion Force con­duct a raid to sim­u­late an at­tack as part of height­ened se­cu­rity ef­forts lead­ing up to next week’s APEC (Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion) Sum­mit of Lead­ers yes­ter­day in Manila. — AP

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