Did a terror threat shut down the ASEAN summit scheduled in Cebu?
The Philippines has made many preparations for the ASEAN summit, seen to be another star in the crown of the beleaguered President Arroyo. The summit was a two day meeting of Finance and Foreign ministers from South East Asia that was supposed to discuss free trade and cooperation on security matters.
However, the planning of the summit has already run into problems, the first one being that the main hotel/conference center would not be ready in time for the scheduled summit.
The second problem has little to do with the summit: The plans of opposition leaders to hold demonstrations against the president and against her plan for “ChaCha”, (i.e.charter change), i.e. changing the constitution from a US model to a parliamentary model such as in the UK. Even though most of the demonstrations would be in Manila, they would drain security personnel from being stationed in Cebu.
The third reason is a threat of terrorism .
Well, yes, this is the Philippines, so what else is new?
But recent raids have revealed that local terror groups have had help with bomb making by AlQaeda trained Indonesians. There have been several sophisticated bombs found or detonated in the last two months, and reports of female terrorists who might become suicide bombers. Whether this threat is specifically against the ASEAN summit, or just against means of transportation/malls/fiestas during the busy Philippine Christmas season is a very real worry.
But the final straw was another typhoon is heading toward the Philippines, and aimed right at the central Philippines.
Despite a western press crying about “threats of terrorism”, one suspects that this threat alone would not have postponed the summit.
But a combination of three threats, especially when the main convention center (where security would be easier) is not available, probably combined were enough to decide postponement was the best option.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines with her husband, six dogs, three cats, and a large extended family. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket .