THE Task Group Bacolod sent off on Monday a total of 4,237 security personnel to their various posts ahead of the 15th Meeting of the Asean Senior Officials/Ministers Responsible for Information (Somri) in this city on March 22 to 23.
The four-day event also includes related activities on March 21 and March 24.
Around 50 delegates from the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-states will gather in Bacolod.
The Vietnamese delegation already arrived Monday.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia said “the number of the security forces alone will tell us that this is really a massive preparation on the part of the local and national organizing committees.”
The City Government released a fund of about P3 million to host the event, he said.
The send-off rites, held at the Bacolod City Government Center, was led by Chief Superintendent Renato Gumban, acting director of Police Regional Office-18, who also heads Task Group Bacolod, with Leonardia, retired Chief Superintendent Josephus Angan, and Assistant Deputy Director General Angela Javier, who are part of the Asean-National Organizing Committee, and Office of the Civil Defense-Negros Island Regional OIC- Director Ma. Aletha Nogra.
In the afternoon, the Asean-NOC held a Pre-Deployment Conference for Task Group Bacolod.
Only about 2,500 were present during the send-off ceremony in the morning since the rest were already deployed to various assignments last weekend.
Deployed were personnel were from the Bacolod City Police Office, Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office, Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office, Special Action Force, Philippine Army, Mobile Highway Patrol Group, Police Regional Office-Western Visayas, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Coast Guard, National Support Unit, and Philippine National Police headquarters.
Gumban said they are assigned to secure hotels, airports, roads, malls and other areas of convergence in the host-city and adjacent areas.
He added that securing the four-day event is “a team effort and a call of nation approach.”
“Let us invest skills and knowledge for a successful event as this will give way to more opportunities for Bacolod City (and also for) Negros Island Region,” he added.
Leonardia urged the security personnel to ensure the peaceful staging of the historic event.
“I hope you all have a sense of mission and fulfillment in performing your responsibilities,” the mayor added.
During a press conference, Leonardia said that if the city’s hosting of the Asean meeting would be successful, the senior officials and the delegates can become ambassadors of goodwill who can promote Bacolod in their own countries.
“We should help to secure our visitors and if security measures will be more than the usual, sorry for the inconvenience because it is inevitable in the high level meeting,” the mayor said.
Asean info kiosk
Mall goers will learn more about the Asean through the Information Kiosk set up by Philippine Information Agency (PIA) at SM City Bacolod Main Atrium.
PIA-Western Visayas Director Janet Mesa and Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran led the opening of the kiosk Monday afternoon highlighted by the switch-on of the ASEAN TV Infomercial.
During the ribbon-cutting rites, Mesa and Familiaran were joined by SM City Bacolod building administrator Lorenzo Benedicto, and marketing manager Nep Grandea.
Mesa said the kiosk contains two kinds of information – one is purely about Asean, and the other about the different government agencies.
“The Philippines is the host of the series of Asean meetings in the country. This is particularly significant because this year, Asean is celebrating its 50th year since its founding in 1967,” she added.
The Asean is composed of member-states Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar.
Mesa said they offer the materials for free like government newspapers, flyers, and brochures.
“We invite all those who are at SM mall to visit the kiosk so they may be able to know what the government agencies are doing, their projects, and activities,” she added.
Familiaran said the unity among its member-states strengthens the Asean, but Asean is more than that.
There is economic, political, and security cooperation among its members which definitely makes Philippines esteemed to be part of it, he added.
“This year, Philippines takes pride in engaging the world as partners of change for being the host of the remarkable 50th Asean Summit of 2017,” the vice mayor said. (With reports from PNA)