All set for Asean sum­mit; April 28 a hol­i­day

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By EM­MANUEL TUPAS AFP – With He­len Flores, Jose Katig­bak, Robert­zon Ramirez, Non Alquitran

Enough se­cu­rity mea­sures are in place for the 30th As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) sum­mit on April 26-29 at the Philip­pine In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­ter (PICC) in Pasay City, Philip­pine National Po­lice chief Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Ron­ald dela Rosa said yes­ter­day.

“It’s all systems go,” Dela Rosa said in an am­bush in­ter­view when asked about se­cu­rity prepa­ra­tions for the ASEAN sum­mit. “We are very much pre­pared for this event.”

At least 26,000 po­lice­men would be de­ployed to en­sure the se­cu­rity of world lead­ers in at­ten­dance.

Dela Rosa ear­lier said they have not have not de­tected any spe­cific threat from the Abu Sayyaf. His as­sur­ance came weeks after 10 Abu Sayyaf ban­dits en­gaged law en­forcers in gun bat­tle in the tourist is­land of Bo­hol. ASEAN min­is­ters are meet­ing in Panglao, Bo­hol late this month. Pres­i­dent Duterte has of­fered P1-mil­lion bounty for each of the Abu Sayyaf ban­dits who eluded au­thor­i­ties in Bo­hol.

“We have been re­ceiv­ing texts say­ing they were sighted in the moun­tains,” Dela Rosa said, cit­ing in­for­ma­tion from res­i­dents on the pos­si­ble where­abouts of the Abu Sayyaf.

The National Cap­i­tal Re­gion Po­lice Of­fice also said ev­ery­thing is in order, se­cu­rity-wise.

“Our se­cu­rity prepa­ra­tions are so far so good. Our in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity mon­i­tored no ter­ror­ist threat against the event,” said NCRPO chief Di­rec­tor Os­car Al­bay­alde.

He said there’s no need for for­eign em­bassies to is­sue travel ad­vi­sories as the 28,000-strong NCRPO is on top of the sit­u­a­tion.

Since April 18, the NCRPO and other units of the PNP have been con­duct­ing sim­u­la­tion ex­er­cises to en­sure ASEAN lead­ers would be fer­ried to and from the sum­mit venue in the short­est time pos­si­ble.

“So far we see no prob­lem in se­cur­ing the event,” said Al­bay­alde. “What is crit­i­cal for us is the travel of the 10 heads of states to the venue and back to their ho­tel which we are try­ing to cope with.”

Al­bay­alde said they would im­pose a road lock­down along Dio­kno Ave. from April 28 to 30, as he urged the public to keep away from the area for their own safety and con­ve­nience. Del­e­gates to the sum­mit have started ar­riv­ing while lead­ers are ex­pected to ar­rive on April 28 or the eve of sum­mit proper.

Em­manuel Miro, op­er­a­tions head of the Metropoli­tan Manila De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (MMDA) task force ASEAN, said Dio­kno Av­enue and Ja­lan­doni, V. Sotto, A. Dela Rama and Bukaneg streets in Pasay City have been des­ig­nated as ASEAN lanes.

Miro also told mo­torists to ex­pect “in­ter­mit­tent stops” on Ar­naiz and Makati Av­enues and Park­way Drive in Makati City, which have also been des­ig­nated as ASEAN lanes.

The MMDA will en­force a “stop and go” rule along ASEAN lanes, mean­ing they are closed to mo­torists only when del­e­gates are us­ing them.

Trump visit lauded

The De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs (DFA), mean­while, wel­comed yes­ter­day US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s con­fir­ma­tion of his visit to the Philip­pines to at­tend a sum­mit with ASEAN lead­ers in Novem­ber.

“We wel­come the an­nounce­ment made by US Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence that US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will par­tic­i­pate in the East Asia Sum­mit (EAS) and the ASEAN-US Lead­ers’ Sum­mit to be hosted by the Philip­pines in Novem­ber,” DFA spokesman Robe­spierre Bo­li­var said.

Pence made the an­nounce­ment dur­ing his visit to the ASEAN head­quar­ters in Jakarta last Wednesday.

Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son will visit Manila in Au­gust to pre­pare for the meet­ings, the US State De­part­ment said.

Trump will also at­tend the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) fo­rum in Viet­nam, the US of­fi­cial said.

Pence said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion would work with ASEAN on se­cu­rity is­sues, trade, and free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion in the South China Sea.

“If he is com­ing, it would be good for the coun­try, for all of us,” Pres­i­dent Duterte ear­lier said.

Duterte has been likened to Trump as both lead­ers are fond of us­ing in­flam­ma­tory re­marks, which their re­spec­tive spokesper­sons and Cab­i­net of­fi­cials would later clar­ify.

In a pre­vi­ous speech in Doha, Qatar, Duterte said Trump told him that “I was do­ing right” in the fight against il­le­gal drugs.

Duterte had cursed Trump’s pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama on sev­eral oc­ca­sions for crit­i­ciz­ing his drug war.

Obama can­celled his meet­ing with Duterte dur­ing the ASEAN sum­mits in Laos in Septem­ber last year.

Am­bas­sador Mar­ciano Paynor Jr., di­rec­tor-gen­eral for op­er­a­tions of the ASEAN 2017 national or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, ear­lier said they ex­pect 100 per­cent at­ten­dance in the ASEAN meet­ings.

In Washington, Deputy As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for South­east Asia Pa­trick Mur­phy said Tiller­son will have a work­ing ses­sion in Washington on May 4 with ASEAN for­eign min­is­ters to dis­cuss chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties in the re­gion prior to their more for­mal ASEAN Re­gional Fo­rum (ARF) in Manila.

Mur­phy said the visit of the two top of­fi­cials to the Philip­pines un­der­scores the im­por­tance of the re­gion to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

In re­ply to a query on Pres­i­dent Duterte’s war against drugs, Mur­phy said the Pres­i­dent’s ob­jec­tives to end the sale and use of il­le­gal drugs “are one many of us share” in­clud­ing the United States

“We not only sym­pa­thize but we want to help” in such mat­ters as re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and stop­ping the flow of drugs across bor­ders.

But Mur­phy em­pha­sized ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings in con­nec­tion with the drug war were trou­bling and urged the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion to fol­low up on its com­mit­ment to thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gate th­ese deaths.

The US would con­tinue to raise this is­sue pri­vately and pub­licly with the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion, he added.

EAS com­prises the 10 ASEAN coun­tries (Brunei, Cam­bo­dia, In­done­sia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, the Philip­pines, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land, Viet­nam), and di­a­logue part­ners Aus­tralia, China, In­dia, Ja­pan, New Zealand, the Repub­lic of Korea, the United States and Rus­sia.

US Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence is ac­com­pa­nied by Philip­pine Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions Asean El­iz­a­beth Buen­suceso dur­ing a meet­ing at the Asean Sec­re­tariat in Jakarta on April 20. Pence is cur­rently on a tour of South Korea, Ja­pan, In­done­sia and Aus­tralia that is aimed at smooth­ing some of the rougher edges of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s rhetoric.

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