By Filane Mikee Z. Cervantes
MANILA, Nov. 13 (PNA) — Every aspect of the forthcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit, slated Nov. 17 to 20, is all set and ready, the APEC 2015 spokesperson said on Friday.
“Every aspect (of the APEC), handa na tayo. Nasa homestretch na (We are ready for the APEC in every aspect. We are already down the homestretch),” said Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, Philippine Foreign Affairs and APEC spokesperson, during the regular “Kapihan sa Media ng Bayan” at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) building in Quezon City.
With incremental and year-round preparations as host of this high-profile economic summit, the Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesperson expressed the country’s readiness in terms of logistics, substance, and security.
For the logistic component, authorities including President Benigno Aquino III have inspected the different APEC venues (Philippine International Convention Center, Mall of Asia Arena, and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals) to oversee the final phase of preparations and guarantee fine-tunings for a “flawless and seamless flow of events” during the big event.
Furthermore, the communication hub International Media Center (IMC), located at the World Trade Center, is already up and running with state-of-the-art facilities since Thursday to accommodate over 3,000 foreign and local media, thus ensuring the propagation of information about APEC all over the world.
Substantive preparations have also been made for several months through APEC meetings among ministers in various places in the Philippines including Tagaytay, Boracay, Iloilo and Cebu.
“Lahat tinalakay na ang agenda ng bawat departamento for culmination (Every department was able to confer its agenda for culmination),” said Chito Manalo, Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary of Industry Promotions Group.
With APEC’s overarching theme “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World”, the priorities pursued into their agenda include fostering micro, small and medium enterprises’ (MSMEs) participation in regional and global markets; investing in human capital development; building sustainable and resilient communities; and enhancing the regional economic integration agenda.
As for the biggest challenge of the hosting, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson Colonel Restituto Padilla said that although there were no serious threats, security was still heightened in the metropolis due to the convergence of high-risk leaders.
Security measures are in place through declaration of class and work suspensions, road closures, no-fly zones, and no-sail zones during APEC week.
To further ensure the security blanket for the leaders of member economies, Padilla said that they had coordinated with the security personnel of each leader to prepare for the level of threat that comes along with.
Out of the 21 economic leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indonesian President Joko Widodo will not be attending the APEC summit to address some domestic issues in their respective countries.
“While it is regretful, we understand the reasons behind their (Putin’s and Widodo’s) absence,” commented DFA Spokesperson Jose, as he also looks forward to the attendance of the other economic leaders.
President Putin will be represented by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev while President Widodo will be represented by its Trade Minister Thomas Lembong.
DTI Undersecretary Manalo defended the Php10 billion budget allotted for the APEC’s hosting by noting that it is an “international commitment”.
“In terms of budget, dapat talaga paglaanan ito para magampanan ang ating tungkulin (we really need to allocate a portion of our budget for this in order to do our part (as a member of APEC)),” said Manalo.
“Think of it as an investment rather than as an expense,” he added, referring to the long-term benefits of building economies and building confidence by participating in world events such as this.
APEC member-economies include US, Japan, China, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, and Philippines. (PNA)