Manila goes into lockdown mode for Apec summit

Baku, November 10, AZERTAC

The Philippines is mobilising more than 20,000 security and emergency personnel, shutting down major highways, rescheduling commercial flights and placing the capital Manila on a week-long holiday as it prepares to host 21 world leaders at Apec's 27th summit next week, according to Straitstimes.

"Thus far, I think we are about... 95 per cent to 97 per cent ready," Mr Marciano Paynor, head of the Apec organising council, said at a news briefing.

The Philippines is spending about 10 billion pesos (S$300 million) in its year-long hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit events.

Mr Paynor defended the sum, telling reporters it is "an infusion of a particular amount of money that we suddenly had, and then we put it into the economy".

He said the amount is also dwarfed by how much China spent when it hosted last year's summit, with US$95 million (S$135 million) spent on landscaping alone.

More than 20,000 policemen, soldiers, firemen and first-aid workers have been enlisted to help keep safe thousands of delegates and leaders who will be attending the Apec Economic Leaders Meeting on Nov 18 and 19, including the United States' Barack Obama, Russia's Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping, and Singapore's Lee Hsien Loong.

Icy relations between Manila and Beijing enjoyed a slight thaw the last time Mr Aquino and Mr Xi met face-to-face, for about 10 minutes at a tree-planting during last year's Apec summit in China.

Relations between the Philippines and China have sunk to new lows because of a simmering row over the South China Sea, where the two nations have overlapping claims, along with those of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

The Apec summit - to be held from Nov 17 to 20 - is expected to draw close to 10,000 delegates.

Manila will be on holiday for the most of the summit week.

The government has suspended classes from Nov 17 to 20, and has declared Nov 18 and 19 as special non-working holidays.

Nearly 400 flights originally scheduled for next week have already been cancelled, and the skies over Manila will be a no-fly zone for three days.

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