Asean meeting in Bohol to proceed as scheduled
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit meetings in the resort town of Panglao in Bohol next week will not be cancelled despite the bloody clash between government troopers and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Inabanga town.
“Business as usual. There are no cancellations. Kayang-kaya natin yan. (We can secure the delegates),” said Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), in an interview yesterday.
More than 200 delegates from the ten member-countries of the Asean are expected to take part in the 10th meeting of the Asean-Hongkong Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) Trade Negotiating Committee and related meetings that will be held in a resort on Panglao Island from April 19 to 22.
Taliño said Asean Summit delegates have no reason to fear for their safety since the tension is now just confined in Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Napo in Inabanga, which is some 71 kilometers from the capital Tagbilaran City and the adjoining Panglao Island.
Last Tuesday, ASG members engaged government troopers in a gunfight in the mountain village of Napo that killed six suspected ASG members, three soldiers, and one policeman.
As of 5 p.m. yesterday, police and military authorities have declared they have defeated the intruders and killed their leader, Abu Rami.
“The rest of Bohol is okay. Within the day, our objective is for the situation in Barangay Napo to normalize,” Taliño told reporters yesterday.
At least 4,000 policemen, Taliño said, will be deployed in Panglao and other key areas in Bohol starting Saturday, April 15.
The same security measures they used during the Asean meetings in Cebu that were held from April 3-7 will be used in Bohol, he added.
No sail, no fly zones
“The security preparations are (done). We just have to make some minor adjustments following what happened in Napo,” he said.
Taliño said the areas near the venue of the Asean Summit meetings in Bohol have been declared “no sail, no fly zones” for the duration of the event.
Taliño said their counterparts in the Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Police, and the Philippine Navy are guarding the shores of Bohol, while members of the Philippine Air Force are monitoring the skies.
Asteria Caberte, director of the Department of Trade and Industry in Central Visayas (DTI-7), likewise stressed that they were proceeding with the preparations for the meeting.
“All systems go for next week’s Asean meeting. Behold, Bohol,” she told Cebu Daily News in a text message on Wednesday.
The DTI, which is hosting the meeting, have prepared a number of offerings for the delegates, including the setting up of a “Go Local” pop-up store at the venue.
“We will be displaying top quality products from the region, unique and carefully curated,” she said in an earlier interview.
The DTI’s “Go Local” store concept aims to showcase high-quality souvenir items manufactured by homegrown micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises.
It seeks to bring world-class and high-end products made by Filipinos to the mainstream consumer base.
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