Wednesday, January 21, 2015
ANGARA URGES GOVT TO BUILD ON 'GAINS' AND 'GOOD HANDLING' OF PAPAL VISIT
MANILA-Government’s “good handling” of Pope Francis’ recent visit to the country effectively served as a “dry run” for Manila’s hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit scheduled late this year, Sen. Sonny Angara stressed today as he called on the Aquino government to build on the gains and success of the 5-day papal visit.
“If there’s another good thing which came out of the papal visit aside of course from the spiritual aspect, it was the dress rehearsal which allowed us to assess our logistical preparedness, the state of our infrastructure, the security arrangement for the series of bigger events that we’re hosting this year,” Angara pointed out.
Among these are APEC’s Economic Leaders Meeting in November which will be attended by 21 heads of governments and the number of high-level ministerial meetings preceding it.
About 10,000 delegates are expected to attend the 25th staging of the annual gathering of Pacific Rim leaders.
In addition, the government has declared 2015 as the Visit Philippines Year, with a target to attract nine million visitors from around the globe.
“We will be rolling out the red carpet on all these events and luckily we had the Pope’s visit as a trial run on how good we are as hosts,” Angara said.
“The Pope’s visit yielded many valuable lessons that will serve us well on the months ahead."
He said government should “assess the strengths and weaknesses of its handling of the papal visit so it will know the best practices it should repeat and improve on things where it fared poorly.”
"Among the complex challenges of the Pope’s visit which it passed with flying colors was the security arrangements," Angara exclaimed.
“Its being able to deploy a massive force of 70,000 policemen and soldiers to guard the papal motorcade route and public engagements where an estimated six million people attended was impressive,” the senator said, adding: "That should prepare us when 21 heads of state will be here for the APEC.”
He said the traffic plan adopted for the Pope’s visit will also come in handy when it is time for the MMDA to devise a plan for the APEC event.
For hosting the APEC meeting, the government will be spending at least P6 billion, P4.6 billion authorized under the “International Commitments Fund” in the 2105 national budget and P1.4 billion in the 2014 supplemental budget passed last December.
The amount does not include funding for key infrastructure projects such as the improvement of Roxas Boulevard, the asphalting of EDSA and the sprucing up of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
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