Philippines deploys 40,000 soldiers, police for ASEAN summit

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-26 20:26:52|Editor: ZD


A member from the Philippine Coast Guard patrols outside the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the venue for this year's Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Pasay City, the Philippines, April 26, 2017. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

MANILA, April 26 (Xinhua) -- More than 40,000 soldiers, policemen and uniformed personnel have been deployed in Manila as the city hosts a summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday.

Preparatory meetings, involving ASEAN ministers and senior officials kicked off on Wednesday.

Philippine Ambassador to ASEAN Elizabeth Buensuceso chaired the meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to ASEAN, starting a series of official meetings that will culminate with the 30th ASEAN summit.

A government statement said the CPR discussed their work plan for 2017, reports and recommendations to the ASEAN senior officials and ASEAN ministers, commemorative activities on the 50th anniversary of ASEAN this year, ASEAN's relations with its dialogue partners and other external parties, and preparations for the 50th ASEAN foreign ministers meeting (AMM) and related ministerial meetings in August in Manila.

"The meeting also exchanged views on possible outcome documents and various initiatives for the 50th AMM and other ministerial meetings and the 31st ASEAN summit in November," the statement read.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will chair the summit that will be attended by ASEAN leaders from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi will represent Myanmar whose head of state could not make it to the summit, according to Marciano Paynor, director general of the ASEAN National Organizing Council.

He said Duterte, who assumed office in June last year, is ready to chair the summit. He said Duterte had been preparing for the summit, receiving briefings on the issues to be discussed by the regional bloc.

The ASEAN summit on Saturday is the first of two ASEAN leaders' summits that the Philippines will host this year as chair of ASEAN.

The ASEAN leaders will have a second summit in November.

Starting Thursday, the government suspended work and classes in at least three cities in Metro Manila where the summit and related meetings are being held.

The ASEAN meetings take place a few days after government troops and police foiled fresh attempts of the Abu Sayyaf militants to seize hostages in beach resorts in Bohol, a province in central Philippines, far from its strongholds in the southern Philippine Basilan and Sulu provinces.

Abu Sayyaf is one of the smallest and most violent bandits groups operating in the southern Philippines notorious for kidnappings, bombings and attacking civilians and the army.

A number of foreign Embassies in Manila issues travel warning to their nationals prior to the deadly clashes. The government has beefed up security arrangements in Manila as a result of the foiled attack.

On Tuesday, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla advised Filipinos to be vigilant and work with authorities in keeping the peace while the meetings take place.

Padilla assured the public that there are no security threats directed at the ASEAN meetings.

"We don't see any threat right now, no serious threat that is in the radar screen," he told reporters. Nevertheless, he said the government's security planning "is always based on worst-case scenarios."

Dela Rosa said "We have rehearsed and fine-tuned all our systems and procedures for this even such that we have established a full backup system that will address any unforeseen situation that may arise."

The ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, is marking its 50th anniversary this year.

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