Philippines vows higher security for Apec summit security after Paris attacks

A Philippine Navy patrol boat taking position along the Manila bay, near the venues of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which will be held next week.
A Philippine Navy patrol boat taking position along the Manila bay, near the venues of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which will be held next week. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines on Saturday (Nov 14) vowed "higher security" for world leaders at an economic summit in Manila next week after a series of bombings and shootings left more than 120 dead in Paris.

United States 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 Nov 18 to Nov 19.

"The attacks... showed not only premeditation but the cruelty that demands the greatest indignation from the world. The Philippines mourns the dead and stands shoulder to shoulder with France," President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Abigail Valte said.

"Certainly our security establishment... will be taking the necessary steps to fine-tune as necessary our security plans and our contingency plans for the hosting," she said in a broadcast on government radio.

"We are committed to ensuring the safety of our visitors and our people. This is a message that has been sent 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 summit organising committee, told AFP by text: "Higher security."

Foreign department spokesman Charles Jose added: "Our security officials are monitoring and assessing the situation and are taking necessary precautions to ensure the safety, security and well-being of all delegates."

Early on Saturday (Nov 14), Philippine marines deployed anti-aircraft guns 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 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.

The Philippines has a long history of Islamic militancy in a southern region about 1,000km 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.

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry also said President Joko Widodo would be absent, while the hosts said the president of Colombia was attending as an observer.