SOME school officials see no need to suspend classes when some 3,000 delegates come to Cebu for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings starting four weeks from now.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, who heads the local organizing committee, will ask the Office of the President through the APEC national organizing committee to declare some meeting days as holidays.
Lawyer Augusto Go, founder and president of the University of Cebu (UC), suggested instead that teachers and students be requested to go to school earlier to help prevent traffic, instead of suspending classes.
He said that suspending classes just to partially solve the traffic problem would be bad for education.
Fr. Felino Javines, Basic Education Department director of the University of San Carlos (USC), said that if schools will not be involved in the APEC events, he would not favor suspending classes.
“With or without APEC, the traffic will still be bad,” he said.
Local organizers have decided to ask for holidays instead of regulating the number of vehicles, such as by using a number-coding scheme. The Third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting and related meetings will be held in Cebu from Aug. 22 to Sept. 11, 2015. Other meetings are scheduled in October, but the Leaders’ Summit will be in Metro Manila in November.
Interviewed separately, Bernabe Sabejon of the Association of Concerned Teachers supported Go’s position.
Nestor Ramirez of the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJR) Mass Communication Department said that as long as the school can comply with the required contact hours for classes, he think it would be permissible to declare some holidays during the APEC meetings.
“The need to clear the roads during these times is imminent, to less the risk of securing the state leaders who would be here. Declaring a holiday could be one effective move to attain this,” Ramirez said.
Although Mandaue City will not host any of the ministerial meetings, which more than 3,000 delegates from 21 countries are expected to attend, the delegates will be passing through the city to move from one meeting to another.
The Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) is expecting up to 650 police officers from other police units to help secure routes to be used by delegates of the APEC meetings in Cebu.
But where will they stay?
MCPO Chief Mariano Natuel said they are still looking for places where the police officers can be accommodated.
“Our task now is to find a place to billet them for two months,” he said.
The meetings will be held in the cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu.
Natuel said around 1,200 police officers need to be deployed in Mandaue City alone during the APEC meetings, which will start in the middle of August and end in October.
MCPO only has around 400 police officers, and only 40 percent of them can be deployed during APEC-related activities in Mandaue City. The rest will do their regular functions.
“We have been going around to look for facilities that we can use for free or rent to billet police officers coming from far places,” Natuel said.
He admitted it is hard to find owners willing to lend or rent out a place for the police for two months.
One of the places suggested was the Mandaue City Sports Complex, but he said making the facility unavailable to other users for two months is impractical.
Natuel said one option they are looking at is to ask homeowners to host police officers.
Apart from police officers, tanods from barangays will be deployed along the routes of APEC delegates.
Natuel said that aside from securing the routes, police officers will also be escorting delegates and their friends or family members who wish to visit places in Mandaue City.
Meanwhile, local organizers proposed using a road inside the Mactan airport as an alternative route for APEC dignitaries.
“If airport officials will allow us, there is a parallel road, a service road, very secure and inside the (airport) fence,” Engineer Renault Ricardo told a meeting headed by Gov. Hilario Davide III last Friday. Ricardo is with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete said the request has been discussed with Department of Transportation and Communication officials in Manila, but an official request from the APEC national organizing committee is expected.
Ricardo, district engineer of 6th Engineering District, said that one end of this 10-meter-wide road is in the airport’s arrival/cargo area, while the other end leads to Quezon National Highway in Barangay Ibo.
This will help delegates avoid the Mactan Economic Zone area, which is beside a shopping mall and which has a large number of public utility vehicles waiting to pick up workers from the export processing zones.
One of the local organizers pointed out, however, that traffic in Lapu-Lapu city, specifically from the APEC venues to the delegates’ hotels, is not as heavy as it gets in the cities of Mandaue and Cebu.
“The challenge is more in Cebu City than in Lapu-Lapu City, in terms of traffic,” Capitol consultant Lito Maderazo said.