Manila: APEC fever (fwd)

The Anarchives (
Thu, 21 Nov 1996 15:34:35 +0000 (GMT)

[Asia Times News][See below for text index]

Philippines in grip of APEC fever

Manila, Peter Limqueco, Asia Times, 15th November 1996


The Philippine government is leaving no stone [Image]
unturned to ensure the success of next week's
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila and
Subic Bay.

But the monstrous security and logistics arrangements are
taking their toll on both organizers and public patience.

Late last month, APEC information director Rodolfo Reyes,
a former press secretary to President Fidel Ramos, was
hospitalized after a heart attack. Retired General
Abraham Paray, APEC deputy director for security,
reacting to criticism of public inconvenience caused by
the preparation, has threatened to resign.

And last Sunday, an overzealous security guard shot dead
a man loitering near the Manila Hotel, where United
States President Bill Clinton, Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei
and Indonesian President Suharto are booked to stay.

The stress is affecting even Ramos. In a press conference
last month, he insisted that Danielle Mitterrand, the
widow of the late French president Francois Mitterrand,
was dead and thus was not on a list of persons banned
from entering the Philippines. (She had been banned in
1994, when she was slated to address a conference on East

The government has budgeted 387 million pesos (US$14.7
million) for the extravaganza, with the Department of
Public Works and Highways spending an additional 167
million pesos to improve and widen the road from Ninoy
Aquino International Airport along Manila Bay (Roxas
Boulevard) to the Manila Hotel - adding 2,000 new
streetlights and Christmas decorations.

And the Philippine International Convention Center, where
senior officials and ministers will be meeting, was
allocated 400 million pesos for renovations. The vicinity
of the center has been cleared of 9,000 squatter families
at an undisclosed cost.

To make VIP traveling comfortable, 36 Mercedes Benzes,
116 Volvo GLEs and 110 Nissan Safaris were leased at a
cost of 14 million pesos for the Benz, and three million
for the Nissans. The Volvos were provided free by the car

The Health Department has allocated two million pesos and
a complement of 50 doctors and 20 ambulances for the 17
visiting leaders and their entourages.

The private sector has also contributed its patriotic
share. The APEC (Phil) Foundation, co-host of the APEC
Business Forum, overshot its target of 145 million pesos
by seven million. Ramos offered a 100 percent tax
deduction for donations to the foundation.

The biggest private donors were from the Chinese-Filipino
business community, which donated 65 million pesos - 50
million of which came from six taipans grouped around the
Asia Emerging Dragon Corporation. The banking community
donated 30 million pesos, while other businessmen
provided 57 million.

At Subic, the venue for the November 25 summit, 21 new

villas have been constructed at a cost of US$1 million
each. Renovation of the Summit Hall and construction of
the new five-star Crown Peak Garden Hotel cost another
US$12 million, and the former officers club has been
converted into a prayer room to meet the religious
requirements of Bolkiah, Suharto and Malaysian Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The Subic Airport was also upgraded at a cost of US$12.6
million dollars.

With 17 leaders of APEC economies arriving on the same
day, plus regular commercial flights, the Manila airport
does not have enough aircraft parking space. Clinton
alone will be bringing eight Boeing 747s. So space for
aircraft has been arranged 70km away at former US airbase
Clark International Airport.

Meanwhile, the general public, who has been told to stay
away from strategic venues, is the most affected on a
daily basis by all the fuss.

Roads are being widened, potholes are being filled,
bridges are being repaired, all of which create traffic
jams. Stress and strain have caused drivers to
occasionally lose their cool - there have been a number
of fatal shooting incidents.

The 30 percent of Metro Manila's 10 million residents who
are squatters have been targeted by bulldozers, causing
an exodus of thousands to relocation sites. For those who
cannot be relocated, white plywood boards have been
erected to hide them from visitors' prying eyes.

Not everyone is happy about the arrangements. Employees
of several major hotels have threatened to stage strikes
during the conference. So have employees of Philippine
Long Distance Telephone Company, threatening to cut
communications with the outside world, and Manila
Electric Company workers want to darken the city.

Also, several leftist groups are preparing anti-APEC

When the curtain falls on November 25, dignitaries will
return to the comfort of their homes and Metro Manilans
will go back to their normal lives, where mere existence
is a daily triumph.


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