AIMING for a “zero incident” ASEAN summit Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa yesterday placed the 170,000-strong police force on full alert as massive security measures were put in place for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit to be hosted by the Duterte government this week.
“We are hosting a very big event. Our personnel have been deployed since yesterday. I’m requiring all of you to be present all the time. I am declaring a full alert status starting today hanggang matapos ang ASEAN Summit,” he said.
The PNP chief said he has instructed all concerned commanders to account for their men every morning and afternoon. “Standby tayo dito ready for any eventuality kung kailangan ang inyong participation,” he said while asking his men to religiously monitor the situation on the ground particularly at the venue of the summit events.
“Kung may makuha kayong balita, share it with proper channel para ‘yung actionable information na masagap niyo ay maaksyunan natin. Good luck sa atin, sana zero-incident tayo uli ngayon,” he said.
On Sunday, a 40,000-strong multi-agency contingent was mobilized as the government completed its final preparations for the 30th ASEAN Summit 2017 in Manila from Wednesday to Sunday this week.
According to Interior and Local Government Secretary Catalino S. Cuy, the chairperson of the ASEAN 2017 Committee on Security, Peace and Order, Emergency Preparedness and Response (CSPOEPR), a total of 40,877 personnel from 21 agencies comprise the CSPOEPR.
The personnel comes from the PNP, the Armed Forces, Presidential Security Group, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Immigration, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Philippine Center for Transnational Crime, Manila International Airport Authority, Coast Guard, Land Transportation Office, Bureau of Fire Protection, Metro Manila Development Authority.
Gen. de la Rosa said that the PNP is providing the muscle for the security and peace and order component through the ASEAN Security Task Force under Police Director Napoleon C. Taas.
He said that the ASEAN Security Task Force is fielding 27,425 personnel distributed among different Task Groups deployed for close-in VIP security for delegates, area and route security, airport security, bay and river seaborne patrol, EOD/K9, Light Reaction/SWAT, CDM operations, Traffic Management, Intelligence and Investigation, Emergency Medical Response, and Command and Control.
Ambassador Marciano A. Paynor Jr, the Director General for Operations of ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council led the official activation and send-off ceremony for the 40,000-strong ASEAN 2017 CSPOEPR last Sunday morning at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.
Gen. de la Rosa said that the PNP has already fine-tuned almost every aspect and detail of this elaborate security operation thru the ASEAN Security Task Force in coordination with the ASEAN-NOC and participating agencies.
He also said that no terror threats have been monitored during the major event although they are not lowering their guard and are ready to respond to any emergency situation.
The 30th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings will be held in Manila this week with President Rodrigo Duterte leading the summit as the Philippines chairs the 10-member regional grouping for 2017.
National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Oscar D. Albayalde said he has ordered a full alert in Metro Manila where security for the ASEAN summit will be beefed up by troops from Regions 1,2,3,4-A, 5 and Cebu.
“Ang tasking natin, ang critical diyan ‘yung pagra-rally at saka ‘yung security,” Albayalde said. The NCRPO chief said that the PNP has not received “any report of any imminent danger” connected to terrorism and added there is no need to jam cellphone signals during the meeting of ASEAN leaders in Manila.
However, he said that they are not keeping their guards down and are continuing to to monitor “threat groups” from Metro Manila as well as certain areas in Mindanao.
The ASEAN Summit in Manila comes days after the Philippine military and police foiled a suspected terror attack by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Bohol following clashes that left at least seven extremists and four troops dead. Duterte said the terror plot targeted ASEAN meetings in Bohol this month.
Officials said they will also not enforce any lockdown on major roads leading to the Philippine International Convention Center during the event on orders of the president. President Duterte decided to do away with road closures and the creation of special lanes so as not to inconvenience the public, according to Albayalde.
The 2-sar general however said that police would implement roadblocks in the vicinity of the PICC following the arrival of the world leaders and other foreign delegates in the country on April 27.
“The President does not want the public to suffer inconveniences because of the ASEAN event so we are conducting simulation exercises to speed up the travel time of the delegates from their hotel to the PICC,” Albayalde said.
“Once the ASEAN leaders are on their way to the PICC, policemen would direct traffic just like an ambulance or a firetruck is passing by,” he added.
Albayalde said that there are no validated threats of terrorist attacks on the summit but assured the public that civilian security forces are not complacent in tracking down state enemies, especially Mindanao-based extremists.
Deputies are tasked to provide security for the summit delegates and as well as securing that no violence would spark in expected demonstrations by militant groups. The Presidential Security Group will be providing close-in security for the top delegates.
High profile personalities to arrive in the country this week include Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Sultan Hussein Bolkiah of Brunei. Representatives and ministers from other Asean states are also expected to join the regional event.
Taas said the biggest challenge really is when the different Heads of State start arriving from April 26-29, the period in which the task force will afford them with the highest level of security.
Taas said that since the meetings will be in Metro Manila once again, they would have to strike a balance between security protocols and the public inconvenience that comes with it.
He added that their security coverage and preparations would strictly abide by the directive of President Duterte to ensure that public inconvenience is held as much as possible in its barest minimum.
Taas declined to provide any further details as regards the 30th Summit preparations since their security plans to include the traffic plan and hotel assignments have to be approved first by the Chairman of ASEAN NOC before they become official.
However, Journal Group sources say that in all likelihood the areas that would be most likely affected would be portions of Arnaiz Avenue in Makati City; the Mall of Asia and the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex in Pasays.
Specifically, rerouting may be implemented along Sen.W. Diokno Boulevard , Jalandoni, V. Sotto, Bukaneg and A. Dela Rama Streets in Pasay City while occasional traffic disruption will be experienced along Pasay Road and Makati Avenue.