All set for asean gab; govt sees no terror threat
THERE are no new terror threats in the country despite the Australian government cautioning its citizens against traveling to the Philippines, Malacañang said Saturday.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Australia’s travel warning issued to its citizens Friday was “not a response to any specific threat.”
“The Philippine government has no information about any increased terror threat in the country and we assure our foreign friends that local authorities have been enforcing tight security measures, especially in populated areas, while we urge everyone to continue being aware of one’s surroundings,” Roque said in a statement.
The Palace spokesman said Malacañang understood the concern of the Australian government “cautioning its citizens on the Philippines safety or security risks.”
“We reiterate that generally it is safe to work, study, do business, and travel in the Philippines,” Roque said.
On Friday, Australia warned its citizens against traveling to the Philippines due to a “high threat” of a terrorist attack, including in the country’s capital.
Canberra alerted its citizens to exercise heightened caution and to be alert regarding possible threats in the Philippines.
“There is a high threat of terrorist attack in the Philippines, including Manila,” the Australian government said.
“Exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines overall. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country,” it added.
As part of security measures, security and intelligence authorities are monitoring possible remaining Maute supporters who are capable of carrying out possible attacks amid preparations for the 31st Asean Summit this month.
But Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla also clarified that not all families bearing the name Maute were involved in the plot behind the five-month Marawi City siege which began on May 23.
He also cautioned the public against mislabeling all people with “Maute” surnames as suspects.
However, he stressed the need for security forces and the public to keep their guard up, saying “collective action” could be a defense to security threats.
Australia issued the advisory a week before world leaders, including United States President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe converge in Manila for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit.
Thousands of police and soldiers are expected to be deployed around Manila next week to tighten security in key areas where state leaders are expected to stay, and where meetings will be held.
At the same time, Malacañang said the Philippines was “good to go” in hosting the heads of government and state coming in for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and Related Meetings from Nov. 10 to 14.
In an interview over state radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the hosting of the regional meet, in time for Asean’s 50th Anniversary “would be the perfect time for Asean and other partnering countries to resolve current issues.”
The Philippines, as the host and chair of the 31st Asean Summit and Related Meetings, is set to welcome all foreign leaders and delegates to ensure that they would experience Filipino hospitality at its finest.
“And since we are about to approach the culminating event of the 31st Asean, we will need to ensure the security of the Asean leaders plus the partnering countries,” Andanar said.
“We should show our best foot forward (because) this is the time that we can show the whole world that we are a very good country, a very nice country, disciplined people, and we are very warm, alam na naman ng lahat ‘yan. And we are very orderly,” he added.
This year, the Gala Dinner for the Asean leaders will be held the night before the 31st Asean Summit.
Earlier, Ambassador Marciano Paynor, director-general of the Asean 2017 National Organizing Council, said the Clark International Airport would be utilized for the arrivals and departures of the leaders, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive that no commercial traffic shall be affected at the Manila International Airport.
Meanwhile, Interior Department Officer-In-Charge Catalino Cuy said from Nov. 12 to 15 all trucks and closed vans would be prohibited from passing through the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) from Clark to Balintawak to give way to a smooth flow of traffic for Asean delegates during the 31st Asean Summit.
Aside from SCTEX and NLEX, all heavy duty vehicles are also barred from traversing along Edsa from Balintawak to Magallanes during the same period, Cuy said.
Motorists should expect intermittent traffic stops in the following designated Asean lanes in the Makati area from Nov. 11 to 15, including Arnaiz Avenue, Makati Avenue, Parkway Drive and along Edsa in the Makati area.
During the same period, rerouting will also be implemented along Sen. Jose W. Diokno Boulevard, Jalandoni, V. Sotto, Bukaneg, and A. Dela Rama in Pasay City, while occasional traffic disruptions will be experienced along Edsa, Pasay Road, and Makati Avenue in Makati City.
The same is also expected along Edsa in Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, and Quezon City.
On the other hand, Cuy advises the public the whole CCP Complex is closed-off for the same dates as it has been designated as an Asean Delegates Zone.
“We urge the public to veer away from the said areas and take alternate routes to avoid being inconvenienced by the heavy traffic while the Asean Summit is ongoing,” he said. John Paolo Bencito