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ASEAN summit under way

by Genalyn Kabiling

The Philippines will take center stage as the highly-anticipated Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and related meetings begin today in the capital.

Authorities have assured that adequate security preparations are in place to ensure the safety and protection of the regional leaders and delegates attending the 30th ASEAN activities scheduled on April 26 to 29.

“On the matter of whether there is a threat that is being seen in the holding of all these events, wala po. We don’t see any threat right now, no serious threat that is in the radar screen,” Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said in a Palace press briefing.

Padilla said government forces have readied security measures to meet any possible “worst-case scenarios” during the summit this week.

“Our planning is always based on worst-case scenarios so whatever worst-case scenarios that we anticipate that could happen, then adequate preparations and plans are laid down to meet these scenarios,” he added.

Under the chairman of the Philippines, the ASEAN summit and related meetings, which carry the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” will be held at the Philippine International Convention Center from April 26 to 29.

President Duterte and nine other Southeast Asian leaders are scheduled to gather for the formal opening of the ASEAN leaders’ summit on April 29.

The leaders are expected to tackle the progress of in the implementation of the ASEAN Vision 2025 and the way forward as well as ASEAN’s external relations and ASEAN’s future direction.

“They will also exchange views on pressing regional and international issues. The Leaders will also interface with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly and the Youth Representatives,” a statement from the ASEAN Philippines read.

Ahead of the regional summit, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei will pay a state visit on April 27 while Indonesian President Joko Widodo will be the state guest on April 28.

Also prior to the ASEAN leaders’ meeting, several preparatory meetings will be made at the ministerial level.

The activities lined up today are the meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN at the PICC and the welcome dinner for the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) leaders and delegates at the City of Dreams.

On April 27, the ASEAN senior officials will hold a preparatory meeting at the PICC, followed by a dinner for the ASEAN foreign ministers at the Blue Leaf Pilipinas.

Five ASEAN activities will be held on April 28, starting with the “Prosperity for All Summit” at the City of Dreams. Other meetings includes the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the 15th ASEAN Political-Security Community Council meeting, and the 19th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting.

President Duterte is expected to attend the 14th ASEAN leadership forum at the Manila Hotel on Friday.

On April 29, the President is scheduled to formally welcome the ASEAN leaders attending the annual summit at the PICC. He will chair the ASEAN plenary summit at the PICC, followed by the retreat at the nearby Coconut Palace.

The “ASEAN Declaration on the Role of Civil Service as a Catalyst for Achieving the ASEAN Community Vision 2025” is expected to be signed during the summit.