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MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Sunday, May 18 said police and law enforcement agencies were ramping up security in preparation for the World Economic Forum (WEF) East Asia, to be held from May 21 to 23 in Manila.
Presidential Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said police were on alert for possible anti-China actions, following the deadly protests in Vietnam.
President Benigno Aquino III will likely discuss tensions in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) with Vietnam’s leader on the sidelines of the forum.
On Saturday, May 17, Aquino’s deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said, “With the president of Vietnam, it will be probable [they will discuss the claims in the West Philippine Sea] given the current issue in their country.”
During the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Myanmar last week, Vietnam sounded the alarm on China’s aggressive actions in disputed waters.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to hold vast deposits of oil and gas. The Philippines and Vietnam are China’s most vocal critics in Southeast Asia.
The Philippines has consistently accused China of bullying and aggressive tactics. Manila recently released aerial photographs as proof of China’s ongoing construction activities on the disputed Johnson Reef.
Meanwhile, China’s deployment of an oil rig in waters also claimed by Vietnam triggered deadly protests in Hanoi, prompting China to evacuate 3,000 of its nationals.
Several groups also staged protests in Manila against China. But Coloma said law enforcement authorities were on alert to prevent violence during the economic forum in Manila.
He added: “Our police and law enforcement agencies are fully prepared to ensure the safe and peaceful conduct of the World Economic Forum. The plans have been discussed. These are comprehensive, and the directive of President Aquino to the Philippine National Police is clear: to do everything necessary to ensure the WEF East Asia forum will go on without incident.”
Asked if Aquino would broach the topic with Vietnam’s prime minister, Coloma said it would be “natural” for the two leaders to discuss the issue once more.
“The Philippines and Vietnam already discussed the issue last week during the 24th ASEAN Summit…It’s natural that if President Aquino and Vietnam’s prime minister were to meet again, they would have an opportunity to discuss the issue further,” Coloma said. – Rappler.com
The Philippines is hosting the World Economic Forum on East Asia from May 21 to 23, 2014 at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. For updates about the forum, visit Rappler’s microsite.