Second thoughts on Apec

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By Jun Ledesma


Friday, February 14, 2014

DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte expressed reservation over the holding of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. APEC, as we know, is a forum on free trade and economic cooperation among the more than 20 countries around the Pacific rim the Philippines included.

If Davao City is being considered it is on account of its international reputation as the fourth among the 349 cities in the world that is considered safe. No other cities in the Philippines made it to the list.

It stands to reason therefore that Davao is seriously being considered and from what I learned from the grapevine is that the organizers have in fact surreptitiously come to town and checked on the facilities and the peace and order condition obtaining in City.


The Apec forum is set for September next year. (This year Beijing will host it). Other cities in the Philippines are bidding to host the event while Mayor Duterte is not going gaga over it like others do. My guess is that while he can guarantee order, he is not so confident on the peace aspect because the city share common boundaries with provinces that had been experiencing some internal conflicts.

But experience would tell us that even with some serious threats, with Mayor Duterte in the helms of government, the city had been virtually shielded. To be dubbed the fourth safest city in the world is not mere rhetoric. The institution behind the rating has bases to declare so. It is not that Davao City is immune from terrorism. The fact remains that all the nooks and corners of the world, even among the most advance countries with the most sophisticated intelligence network are vulnerable to threats. The US of A came to assist Russia in terms of intelligence gathering to secure the winter Olympics.

The threat will always be there. Davao City is no exception. Remember that not too long ago a Malaysian terrorist attempted to blow himself up at the vicinity of the Peoples Park? He wired himself along with a pack of explosives but failed to complete the wirings because our own intelligence operatives beat him on the draw. He tried to elude the cops threatening to detonate the bomb but he cannot do so because obviously the wirings were not in place yet. He attempted to fix this but our SWAT neutralized him before he can succeed.

Of course, holding APEC is a nightmarish challenge. Davao City may not have the wherewithal to establish and sustain a more sophisticated intelligence network and other necessary forces. But then the city government will not go it alone. Even in terms of infrastructures, our roads need a lot of repairs and upgrading. Given the standard of efficiency of the Department of Public Works and Highways based on the sluggish work on Quezon Blvd. and R. Castillo St. we are quite pessimistic that the roads will get the necessary upgrade from now until September of 2015.

But all is not lost. Added to Marco Polo Hotel we have brand new hotels that can compare with what they have in Beijing. While they have the Great Wall of China we have mountain resorts, beaches and diving sites. The only disgraceful site we have unfortunately is the Davao International Airport.

Remember that Cebu Pacific near-fatal accident last year? Well the DIA manager was transferred after that incident. I thought that the new manager will bring with him, or is it her? A new quality standard of airport service and maintenance. Sadly, it has gone from bad to worse! The arrival and departure monitors are gone and so with the lights in the parking lot. The City government ought to petition the Civil Aeronautic and Aviation Board to replace all their personnel in Davao. It looks like the standard and ineptitude of airport management is common for in all our airports. Look at NAIA 1 and 3. Decrepit even as they are newly built and refurbished. Our Davao airport remains to be a monument of corruption and inefficiency. It is sad because airports are what give the first impression.

Maybe the holding of APEC will prod the national government to look at the standard of quality of our infrastructures. Giving our airport the necessary facelift will be a big plus. Prodding DPWH to wake up from their stupor is a consolation. There will be other perks which come with the holding of events as big as this one. The organizers and the national government have to put up additional conveniences.

The CAAB will have to refurbish our airport facilities and DPWH will necessarily improve on the roads. Tourism-oriented establishments will cash-in on this event which will be attended by ministers and then, climaxed by the heads of state. Talking of tourism, our top tourist attraction is the Punisher himself – Mayor Digong Duterte. So let’s go for it mayor!

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 14, 2014.


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