MANILA, Philippines – They’ll dodge talk of territorial issues during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila but the Chinese government is worried about another possible source of conflict: anti-China protests.
“There are some concerns of the Chinese Ambassador, like some rallies particularly directed to the Chinese,” Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ricardo Marquez told reporters on Wednesday, November 11, at a press briefing at the Multi-Agency Coordination Center in Pasay City.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will join other APEC leaders in the Philippines primarily for the APEC Leaders’ Meeting on November 18 to 19. He will also address a pre-summit event, the APEC CEO Summit.
It’s a historic visit as Manila and Beijing continue to battle it out over territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Ahead of Xi’s trip, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with President Benigno Aquino III and other top government officials on Tuesday, November 10.
Marquez on Wednesday said Philippine authorities have not monitored any specific threats against the Chinese president. On Wednesday morning, Philippine security officials met with their Chinese counterparts.
“We have put in place provisions for their concerns. Based on the meeting this morning, I think our Chinese counterparts were confident that their concerns have been properly addressed,” added Marquez, who is also commander of the special task forced formed for the year-long APEC summits and meetings in the Philippines.
In late October, the Philippines scored a victory at a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands when it decided it had the right to head Manila’s case against Beijing, which has claimed practically the entire West Philippine Sea.
Protests during APEC
This early, Marquez said would-be protesters will not be able to get near the main venue, the Philippine International Convention Center, and nearby areas, where bilateral meetings between world leaders are expected to be held.
“In the vicinity of billets, the vicinity of the venue, those are controlled areas. From a considerable entrance, probably yes…but they won’t be able to go near,” added Marquez, when asked where rallies could be held.
Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, who has oversight of the PNP, earlier reminded local chief executives of the “no permit, no rally” rule for those who want to hold protests during the APEC summit.
“Although our laws ensure the free exercise of the people’s right to peaceably assemble and petition the government, we would like to reiterate that we have to observe proper guidelines including seeking permits to conduct public rallies,” Sarmiento earlier said in a statement.
All security officials will be staying at the Multi-Agency Coordination Center for the duration of the APEC meet. It is fitted with systems to allow the real-time monitoring of events, routes, billets, and even the convoys of the APEC leaders.
In addition to deploying venue, route, and billet security, the Philippines will also be beefing up security in the different embassies, including China. Marquez explained this will be to discourage flash rallies in front of the embassies.
Marquez, who has been heading APEC security preparations since his time as chief of the PNP Directorate for Operations, said they are “confident” about their preparations for what he calls “the big show” – the APEC Leaders’ Meeting.
Security officials will be holding a “full-scale exercise” early Saturday morning, November 14, for its APEC plans. This means parts of EDSA will be closed off, including the areas surrounding the hotels were leaders of the different APEC economies will be billeted. – Rappler.com