President Aquino convenes Cabinet security cluster following Paris attacks

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Nov. 15 (PNA) – In the wake of terror attacks in Paris, President Benigno Aquino III convened the Cabinet security cluster to ensure that all preparations and contingencies are in place for the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit slated Nov. 17-20 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

”Yes, the President convened the security cluster in light of the recent developments,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte confirmed on Sunday to the Malacanang media.

Last Friday, at least 129 people were killed in three separate but apparently coordinated terror attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the French capital.

”President Aquino wanted to ensure that all our preparations are in place and all contingencies have been planned for. As he said, it is better to be over prepared than caught under prepared,” Valte said.

Valte said the meeting, which lasted for an hour and a half, was held at the Bahay Pangarap in Malacanang last Saturday.

The Cabinet members in attendance include Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General Cesar Garcia and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ricardo Marquez.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said President Aquino continues to closely monitor the preparations for the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, particularly on security aspect.

”The President continues and is personally monitoring all the aspects particularly on ensuring the security and safety of the public and the APEC leaders and delegates from other countries,” Coloma said in an interview with Radyo ng Bayan.

At least 10,000 delegates, including 3,000 media members, will be coming for the 2015 APEC Summit which the country will host for the first time since 1996.

Meanwhile, Coloma said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) continues to coordinate with the Philippine embassy in Paris to check if there are Filipino nationals who were affected by the terror attacks.

Coloma said the Philippine embassy headed by Ambassador Maria Theresa Lazaro is ready to provide assistance in coordination with the local authorities. (PNA)