SECURING ASEAN | What would it take to protect people in ASEAN events? At least 15K uniformed men; 45K civilian units

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BFP fire trucks spray water of various colors to represent the rainbow colors of ASEAN at Sunday's sendoff rites for the security forces tasked to ensure the safe and orderly hosting of the ASEAN meetings. PHOTO BY JHUN DANTES, INTERAKSYON

MANILA – Around 15,000 uniformed security and public safety personnel converged in Quirino Grandstand, Manila on Sunday morning for the send-off of forces and resources for the upcoming ASEAN 31st Summit and related meetings next week.

The ceremony marked the beginning of deployment of police, military, air, marine and navy forces as well as traffic management officers in key areas in Metro Manila, Pampanga, and Bulacan. Close to 60,000 security and public safety personnel will be deployed for the summit.

It is one of the toughest security challenges for the country, reminiscent of the 2015 hosting of the APEC meetings in Manila. This time around, at least 21 heads of state as well as delegates of ASEAN countries and dialogue partners will gather in the Philippines on a wide range of geopolitical and economic issues impacting the region and beyond.

Catalino S. Cuy, Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Chair of the ASEAN Committee on Security, Peace and Order, and Emergency Preparedness and Response (CSPOEPR), exhorted the forces to do their jobs to ensure the safe and smooth conduct of ASEAN activities.

“With all the briefings and de-briefings, simulation exercises, dry runs, and other security preparations, you can carry out the security measures and counter-measures assigned to you,” he said.

Uniformed personnel gather in front of a huge logo of ASEAN for Sunday’s sendoff for security forces. PHOTO BY JHUN DANTES, INTERAKSYON

On Sunday morning, land, air and water assets to be used for ASEAN security were showcased starting with the turning on of blinkers and sirens of fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, and motorcycles.

Also blown were horns of Philippine Coast Guard sea assets – to be used for the no-sail zone and one-nautical-mile exclusion in areas for ASEAN activities.

The turret shower coming from fire trucks then showcased the ASEAN colors and unfolding of ASEAN 2017 streamer.

The Philippine Air Force capped the feature of ASEAN security resources with the fly-by of helicopters meant to transport essential mandatory equipment, evacuate people, and conduct search and rescue as well as aerial surveys.

The send-off was further highlighted with a civil disturbance drill, wherein a group portraying “protesters” carrying placards and burning an effigy met with a battalion of police that barricaded the entrance of a supposed ASEAN venue.

The practice showed maximum tolerance of police forces despite attempts of their leader to negotiate and in spite of the “violence” of protesters who threw objects and pushed the police.

Both Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the ASEAN National Organizing Council (NOC) Chair, and Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., the Director General for Operations of NOC, prodded the ASEAN 2017 security force to do their job well.