Manila | The Philippines put its police on full alert today and vowed higher security for world leaders at an economic summit in Manila next week after gunmen killed more than 120 people in Paris. US President Barack Obama is set to join the leaders of China, Japan, Australia, Canada and 15 others at an annual Asia-Pacific Economic Conference summit in Manila on November 18-19.
The Philippines and its people stand in solidarity with the people of Paris and all of France, in this time of deepest sorrow and gravest outrage against the perpetrators of these crimes, President Benigno Aquino said in a statement. There is no credible threat registered at this time, but let us all be cooperative and vigilant, he said, adding the police were on alert and the security forces were evaluating security procedures.
Presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said on government radio that Aquino had put the entire 120,000-strong national police on full alert, which she said was standard Philippine security procedure after major terror attacks.
We are committed to ensuring the safety of our visitors and our people. This is a message that has been sent to the visiting APEC leader not just in light of the incidents in Paris, she added. Asked about the implications of the Paris attacks on the APEC summit, Foreign Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, a member of the organising committee, told AFP by text: Higher security.
The Philippines has swept about 20,000 homeless from the streets, cancelled more than a thousand flights, deployed 18,000 police and declared public holidays in Manila to ensure a safe and efficient summit, the organisers have said. Major streets in the usually chaotic capital are being closed to traffic to speed up the shuttling of delegates, with police asking building owners to close their windows to prevent their use by snipers.
Early today Philippine marines deployed anti-aircraft guns and riot police around the main summit venue as police conducted a full rehearsal of the visiting leaders’ motorcades to the summit venues and their hotels. Military helicopters flew low overhead while naval gunboats patrolled the waters of nearby Manila Bay.
The Philippines has a long history of Islamic militancy in a southern region about 1,000 kilometres from Manila, although extremists have also carried out deadly attacks in the capital. APEC has 21 member-economies, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has told the hosts he is skipping the meeting.
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