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Sunday, October 24, 2021

After APEC, PH to host ASEAN

THE Philippines will be hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in 2017.

The information came from the Department of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima in the middle of the press briefing of the recently concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance Ministers’ Meeting on Friday and launching of the Cebu Action Plan (CAP) at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.

Purisima, however, did not cite further details of the hosting. But APEC Cebu organizing committee overall chair Lito Maderazo believes Cebu is ready to accommodate Asean meetings, following the success of the ASEAN Summit in 2007 and this year’s APEC ministers’ meeting in the cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu.

“If we will be told to host Asean by 2017, I think Cebu is ready because we already have the facilities (hotels),” Maderazo told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, although he said it would be recommended that the now-abandoned Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) will be operational when that time comes.

Earlier, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Laura del Rosario shared to the press the “pleasant experience” ministers from 21 APEC economies had with Cebu’s hosting.

Del Rosario, also chair of the APEC Senior Officials Meeting, said Cebu had enough infrastructure, safe environment and interesting tourist spots for the APEC delegates.

She added that foreign ministers’ were delighted with mangoes that she had to remind them to check their blood sugar when they got back to their respective countries. One senior official joked around and told del Rosario that he already consumed 2,000 kilos of mangoes in his stay in Cebu.

Aside from Cebu, Clark, Tagaytay, Boracay, Bataan and Iloilo among others, also hosted some meetings of this year’s APEC.

For Maderazo, he attributed Cebu’s successful hosting of this year’s APEC to the cooperation of the public and private sector.

He said the hotels, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the Cebu furniture makers, the local talents and entertainers, and the hoteliers, among many others in the private sector, did the best they could and showed the warmest hospitality to the delegates.

The efforts of the local government units, traffic, and security officials were also deemed fruitful, as the traffic situation eased along the APEC routes and security of delegates were uncompromised. The Department of Trade and Industry with their Exquisitely Filipino exhibit that reached a P4.4 million sales, and the Department of Tourism’s tour packages customized for APEC, enhanced the delegates’ Cebu experience, according to Maderazo.

“In fact, the delegates made a byword for us, Unforgettably Cebu,” Maderazo said.

Another good thing, he added, was that the weather cooperated. There was little amount of rain and this did not result in flooding. Although if heavy downpours occurred from August to early September, there were ready with flooding management measures in place.

Asked if there were any emergencies or unforeseen circumstances that took place during the hosting period, Maderazo said it could be the rally of some protesters in the streets. But he added that the organizers and the security officials already received intelligence reports, and also anticipated rallies during the APEC meetings.

He said this was handled properly.

As the Philippines’ hosting is close to conclusion, it is apparent that huge amount of resources and money were poured into it.

But for Maderazo, the government’ spending of the APEC, although considerably huge, will bring back benefits to the economy, perhaps not immediately, but in the long run.

“The Philippines’ (government) spending for the APEC is not some kind of splurge. This is our commitment to the APEC as one of the member economies,” Maderazo said. It was in 1996 when the Philippines first hosted APEC meetings.

The official said he had short encounters with the delegates and he said they seemed to enjoy Cebu.

By next month, there will be transporation and energy APEC meetings in Lapu-Lapu City.

In November, leaders of the 21 economies of APEC will meet in Manila.

By next year, Peru will host APEC, followed by Vietnam in 2017, according to Purisima.
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