The Philippines will take center stage as the highly anticipated Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings begin today, April 26, 2017, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.
Discussions are expected to largely focus on closer cooperation and greater reforms to accelerate economic integration in the region.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said leaders of the 10 ASEAN countries will discuss political issues in the region and possible food security in their agenda.
“The leaders will come up with a joint statement after the conclusion of the summit,” said Lopez. Economic issues will not be tackled in depth but the Leaders’ Statement to be prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs may touch also on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which the Philippines would like to have a significant conclusion during its hosting of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.
The statement may also mention cooperation for further development and promotion of the micro small and medium enterprises and their integration into the global value chain.
Authorities have assured that adequate security preparations are in place to ensure the safety and protection of the regional leaders and delegates attending the 30th ASEAN activities scheduled on April 26 to 29.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said security forces have not monitored so far any threat with the country’s hosting of ASEAN Summit 2017.
Año said that as far as he is concerned, they have covered all bases in ensuring that the event will be shielded from any terror attacks.
“We covered the ASEAN Summit and other activities very well so nothing to worry about,” Año said.
“On the matter of whether there is a threat that is being seen in the holding of all these events, wala po. We don’t see any threat right now, no serious threat that is in the radar screen,” Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said in a Palace press briefing.
Padilla said government forces have readied security measures to meet any possible “worst-case scenarios” during the summit this week.
“Our planning is always based on worst-case scenarios so whatever worst-case scenarios that we anticipate that could happen, then adequate preparations and plans are laid down to meet these scenarios,” he added.
Under the chairman of the Philippines, the ASEAN summit and related meetings carries the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”
The Philippine chairmanship coincides with the 50th anniversary of the regional bloc.
President Duterte and nine other Southeast Asian leaders are scheduled to gather for the formal opening of the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit on Saturday, April 29.
The leaders are expected to tackle “the progress of the implementation of the ASEAN Vision 2025 and the way forward as well as ASEAN’s external relations and ASEAN’s future direction.”
“They will also exchange views on pressing regional and international issues. The Leaders will also interface with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly and the Youth Representatives,” a statement from the ASEAN Philippines read.
Prior to the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit on Saturday, several preparatory meetings will be made at the ministerial level.
The activities lined up today are the meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN at the PICC and the welcome dinner for the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) leaders and delegates at the City of Dreams.
On April 27, the ASEAN senior officials will hold a preparatory meeting at the PICC, followed by a dinner for the ASEAN foreign ministers at the Blue Leaf Pilipinas.
Five ASEAN activities will be held on April 28, starting with the “Prosperity for All Summit” at the City of Dreams. Other meetings include the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the 15th ASEAN Political-Security Community Council meeting, and the 19th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting.
On the same day, President Duterte is expected to attend the 14th ASEAN leadership forum at the Manila Hotel.
SPECIAL NON-WORKING DAY
April 28 was declared a special non-working day in Metro Manila yesterday in view of the ASEAN Summit. The holiday declaration was contained in Proclamation No. 197 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea yesterday.
Likewise, on this day the number-coding scheme will be lifted, except in Makati and Las Piñas, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said.
On April 29, the President is scheduled to formally welcome the ASEAN leaders attending the annual summit at the PICC. He will chair the ASEAN Plenary Summit at the PICC, followed by the retreat at the nearby Coconut Palace.
The “ASEAN Declaration on the Role of Civil Service as a Catalyst for Achieving the ASEAN Community Vision 2025” is expected to be signed during the summit.
Duterte and other ASEAN leaders are also expected to participate in the separate meetings with representatives of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly as well as the ASEAN Youth.
The closing session of the 30th ASEAN summit will be held late Saturday.
The last two summits for the day are 12th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit as well as the 10th Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle Summit.
President Duterte is expected to hold a press conference and then host a gala dinner for the leaders and delegates of the summit.
Ahead of the regional summit, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei will pay a state visit on April 27 while Indonesian President Joko Widodo will be the state guest on April 28.
ASEAN members are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
MMDA officer-in-charge Tim Orbos said the agency will also modify truck ban scheme during the ASEAN Summit.
Truckers will be asked to avoid certain thoroughfares in cities of Pasay, Manila, and Makati during daytime to give way to leaders and participants of the ASEAN Summit.
For traffic management, the MMDA will designate special “ASEAN Lanes” where “stop and go” scheme will be enforced.
Affected areas are Sen. W. Diokno, Jalandoni, A. Dela Rama, Bukaneg, Arnaiz Street, Makati Avenue, and Parkway Drive.
Leaders and participants of the ASEAN Summit are expected to traverse certain thoroughfares in cities of Pasay, Manila, and Makati.
Some major roads will be locked down when leaders start traversing and roads will be reopened after officials’ vehicles have passed.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines complex in Pasay City has been designated as ASEAN Delegates’ Zone. Roads in the vicinity will be closed.
Meanwhile, the Manila Police District advised the public to stay at home and avoid areas where the ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings are held.
“We are asking the public to if possible, please avoid the ASEAN venues in this period so as not to inconvenience them and also not to add to our security considerations at the time. If possible, they can go visit the provinces, it’s a very long weekend,” Coronel said.