POSTSCRIPT / November 5, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Swept under the rug during APEC summit

WE SEE how brittle life is in the Philippine capital when for five days this month we the natives will be swept under the rug just so visiting world dignitaries do not trip on us as they scurry to their Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings here.

While frenzied preparation for a fiesta is typically Filipino, some of the steps being taken for the APEC summit show the ineptitude of sitting officials and their habitual last-minute rush for big events.

The dropping in of leaders from 21 Pacific Rim economies for high-level meetings poses challenges more complicated than the January visit of Pope Francis, but good planning and prompt action help minimize the security and logistics problems.

Hosting of the APEC summit is rotated annually among its members with ample notice. The 2015 assignment did not drop on Manila’s lap only yesterday, yet the ongoing frantic improvisations make it appear like we have been caught unawares.

In what looks like an overreaction, the government has ordered that offices and schools in Metro Manila be closed during the APEC week. The government is probably hoping idled city residents will stay home or visit tourist spots in the provinces.

Many thoroughfares will be closed to traffic and days-long truck bans imposed on roads servicing the Manila ports. This has raised fears that the restrictions will put commerce in suspended animation.

 Summit disrupts business, rearranges life

TO MAKE sure APEC delegates do not get embroiled in Metro Manila’s well-known traffic madness, major routes have been reserved for APEC use notwithstanding the expected reduction of vehicles on the road.  

Even before APEC, the losses due to traffic gridlock had been estimated at P2.4 billion each day. Somebody is likely to summarize soon the losses due to the APEC disruption of normal business and the stressful rearranging of life in the capital.

More than 300 flights have been canceled by local airlines, not to mention the redirecting of planes of foreign airlines regularly servicing Manila. As a result, hotels and hospitality establishments are likely to suffer a substantial drop in customer spending.

To balance the negatives, the administration must draw up a credible recapitulation of the immediate peso benefits of the APEC sessions.

The most we have heard from Malacañang so far are appeals for cooperation and understanding as Metro Manila goes through the APEC test with the whole world watching.

We wonder if anybody in the Aquino administration has drawn up contingency plans such as, for instance, to divert some of the bumped Manila flights to the nearby Clark and Subic airports and busing passengers home?

The suggestion that Clark International Airport be upgraded into an alternative gateway has been on the desk of President Aquino for the past five years. One wonders why he sits on it like he does other major projects.

On a related transportation problem, somebody should have worked faster on the infrastructure to relieve the traffic congestion in the nation’s capital — not just for the APEC this month but, more importantly, for residents for always.

Check rerouting plans on APEC days

WITH REROUTING set in many places, motorists and commuters are advised to note these advisories for these dates:

*Nov. 16-20 — Both southbound and northbound lanes of Roxas Blvd., as well as roads around the Cultural Center complex, will be closed to traffic. Alternate routes have been prepared.

The two innermost lanes on both southbound and northbound lanes of EDSA will be reserved for APEC vehicles. These exclusive APEC lanes are Lanes 1 & 2, although they have been erroneously marked as Lanes 5 & 6.

The number-coding scheme for vehicles will continue to be enforced. A daytime truck ban will be imposed in the South Truck Route, which trucks can use only from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. But on Roxas Bvld. there will be a total 24-hour truck ban Nov. 16-20.

*Nov. 18 — Starting at 6 a.m. roads around the Mall of Asia Arena in the reclaimed bay area will be closed to traffic. Non-APEC vehicles will be rerouted to alternate streets. MOA business operations will be suspended from 6 a.m. to midnight.

*Nov. 15-20 — A stop-and-go scheme will be followed in the Magallanes/ Skyway/ SLEx interchange, and in parts of Makati, EDSA, and roads around NAIA. When APEC vehicles approach, traffic will be stopped, and resumed after they have gone through.

*Nov. 17, 19 & 20 — The NAIA air space will be a no-fly zone, and tighter security will be enforced in all terminals. Plane passengers are advised to revise their travel itineraries accordingly.

Newsman raps cop who punched him

CENTRAL Luzon media men are pressing PNP authorities to investigate a policeman in the Gerona station who allegedly punched Tarlac newsman Nelson Bolos while on coverage.

They called on the director of the Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3) to initiate administrative and criminal investigations against PO1 Rogelio Almazan, who Bolos denounced as “an abusive and arrogant policeman” who “badmouthed me and hit my abdomen several times.”

Bolos said Almazan got angry with him for helping a businessman demand the return of two .45 caliber pistols that he entrusted to the policeman in 2009.

George Hubierna of People’s Journal and past president of the Camp Olivas Press Club, said: “Such an abusive policeman has no room in a democratic country like ours since he is a threat to the legitimate press.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 5, 2015)

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