MANILA – Flights will not be disrupted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) during the arrival of world leaders for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in November, an official said Tuesday.
This as all leaders of ASEAN member-states and dialogue partners will arrive in the Philippines via the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, said Ambassador Marciano Paynor, the ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council Director General for Operations .
“This is on the directive of the President that no commercial traffic must be affected at the Manila international airport,” Paynor said in a news conference in Malacañang.
This will deviate from the usual practice of receiving visiting world leaders at the country's main gateway in Manila.
“I recall that there was a certain mayor who was affected by these flights way back. And the mayor expressed his disgust about the traffic, et cetera. I think he had to walk some distance to get to his car. So that mayor became President,” he added, referring to Duterte.
He did not specify which incident this was.
Paynor recalled that when the Philippines hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2015 under then President Benigno Aquino III, close to 450 flights were canceled and another 200 were affected during arrivals and departures of world leaders.
“The 200 were those flights [that] were coming in and then had to be put on hold because leaders’ aircraft were coming and, therefore, a quasi-emergency state was declared,” Paynor said, in reference to protocol observed for arrivals and departures of heads of state.
Paynor said flights would be affected at the Clark airport, but noted that the number would be considerably lower compared to the impact of suspending commercial flight operations in Manila to give way to arriving dignitaries.
He said leaders and officials would transfer between Clark and Manila during the main summit and related meetings, which is why the government earlier decided to suspend work and classes in Metro Manila, Pampanga and Bulacan from Nov. 13 to 15.
He added that traffic enforcers would adopt the “stop and go” scheme whenever a world leader passes through the roads.
Preparatory meetings leading to the summit will be held at the Clark Freeport Zone, Paynor said.
21 LEADERS, UN CHIEF TO ATTEND ASEAN SUMMIT
Paynor said a total of 21 world leaders, along with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, will attend the ASEAN Summit.
Among leaders confirmed to attend is United States President Donald Trump.
Timor Leste, which is not yet a member of the regional bloc, will send a representative, Paynor said.
The President is set to hold bilateral meetings with at least two world leaders within the ASEAN Summit proper, Paynor said. He added that one of the leaders is set to undertake a “bilateral visit” after the summit. He declined to give details.
He said “four or five” countries have so far requested that their leaders hold a “full” bilateral meeting with Duterte, but this has yet to be finalized given Duterte’s duties as ASEAN chair.
Meanwhile, Duterte’s partner Honeylet Avanceña is again expected to host the spouses of visiting heads of state.
Avanceña will host the Gala Dinner on Nov. 12 and the Spouses’ Program on Nov. 13, Paynor said.
“There have been confirmations of some leaders who will bring spouses, and the confirmation is rather indirect because we asked them to submit measurements for the dress that the President and Madam will give as a gift,” he said.
“So if they don’t send the measurements, it’s a definite indication that the spouse is not attending,” he added.