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Summit ends, but some Metro roads still closed

AFTER a two-day holiday break, workers in Metro Manila are returning to work—but main roads will remain closed today (Nov. 20), the last day of the week-long hosting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation  summit in Manila.

Family photo. President Benigno Aquino III and other leaders attending the Apec summit wave to reporters after an official family photo was taken in Manila on Thursday. AFP
Authorities said the closure of Roxas Boulevard, from Katigbak to Naia/MIA Road; and the designated two innermost lanes of both the northbound and southbound of Edsa from Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City to SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, for the exclusive use of Apec delegates, will be in full effect until  12 midnight  Friday.

Chief Supt. Arnold Gunnacao, National Police–Highway Patrol Group director, said the stop and go scheme will also be in effect along Edsa, Magallanes and portions of Skyway and South Luzon Expressway; parts of Makati City, and roads around the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“Traffic will be stopped to let Apec leaders pass through, and will be allowed to flow after,” said Gunnacao, referring to the scheme.

Other roads to be closed until  12 midnight  Friday  are Roxas Boulevard service road from Sta. Monica Street to P. Ocampo, and the stretch of Quirino Avenue from Roxas Boulevard to Adriatico Street.

Also affected by the road closure are Century Park Street from Adriatico to Mabini Street; Mabini Street from P. Ocampo to Quirino Avenue; southbound lane of Adriatico from Quirino Avenue to Century Park Street; P. Ocampo from Adriatico to Roxas Boulevard; M.H del Pilar Street from Sta. Monica Street to Malvar Street, and Pedro Gil Street from Roxas Boulevard to Mabini Street.

The Metro Manila Development Authority advised motorists to avoid these roads and take alternate routes.

In its advisory, the MMDA said all vehicles coming from northern part of Manila using the southbound lane of Roxas Boulevard must turn left to P. Burgos to Maria Orosa, or Taft Avenue to their point of destination.

On the other hand, vehicles coming from southern part of Manila using the northbound lane of Roxas Boulevard may take Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue to Taft Avenue to their point of destination.

Those who travel along P. Ocampo coming from Taft Avenue must take Adriatico Street to Leveriza Street to Quirino Avenue while vehicles using westbound lane of President Quirino Avenue coming from Osmeña Highway (Plaza Dilao) area going to Roxas Boulevard may turn right or left to Taft Avenue to point of destination.

Motorists coming from Del Pilar Street using Roxas Boulevard must turn left to Quirino Avenue going to Taft Avenue.

MMDA general manager Corazon Jimenez apologized earlier for the short notice after a late traffic advisory caused disruptions that angered commuters and motorists alike.

On Thursday, four police officers and 20 other people were hurt in Pasay City  Thursday  after police clashed with protesters at Gil Puyat Avenue.

Police said a scuffle ensued when the protesters tried to enter the area near the Philippine International Convention Center, the official venue of the Apec meetings.

Most of those injured, including children, women and senior citizens, were taken to the Manila Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital and Ospital ng Maynila because of head injuries.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan spokesperson Teddy Casiño condemned the police’ action against the protesters.

“Once again, police have shown contempt for the people’s right to peaceful assembly and free speech. Not only did they prevent protesters from getting close to the Apec venue, which is the target of their message, but they also played loud music to drown out the message of truth and struggle against Apec,” he said.

Wilben Mayor, PNP spokesperson, said the police would observe “maximum tolerance” but they will file necessary charges against demonstrators who break the law.

“Let me reiterate our unequivocal position that any public assembly outside of the designated freedom parks is deemed illegal and will be addressed accordingly,” Mayor said. “The PNP fully respects the right of citizens peaceably to assemble, and express their sentiments as guaranteed under our democratic system.”

Students returning to school next week will face make-up classes because of days lost to the Apec Leaders’ Meeting.

“Each NCR [National Capital Region] division will decide on the most expeditious way of making up for missed class time as part of the Apec hosting,” Education Secretary Armin Luistro said in a text message  Thursday.

“These have been announced by the respective school division superintendents when they gave notice of the Apec schedule to the principals. Schools can have  Saturday  classes hopefully before Christmas holidays or shortly after. These are all left to the better judgment of the heads of the divisions in consultation with the school principals,” he added.

Classes in Metro Manila were suspended from  Nov. 17 to 20  due to the Apec Leaders’ Summit.

Luistro said schools that do not have any other disruptions during the quarter are not required to conduct make-up classes as long as they are able to fulfill the minimum of 45 days of classes.

The organizers of the Apec 2015 meetings and summit thanked the public for their understanding for the inconvenience they experienced as a result of tight security measures.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding over the inconvenience brought about by our enhanced security measures,” said the Apec 2015 organizers, in its message on Twitter  Wednesday.

“You have shown to the 10,000 delegates composed of 19 economic leaders, two high-level representatives of member-economies, 21 trade ministers, 21, foreign ministers, 21 senior officials, over 6,000 staff and security personnel, and over 4,000 members of the local and international media, what Filipino hospitality means,” said the organizers.

On Thursday, thousands of protesters took to the streets near Roxas Boulevard and Gil Puyat Avenue.

Police used water cannon to disperse the protesters who refused to disperse.

Police also used loud speakers to play party songs to counter the shouts of the protesters.

A scuffle ensued when some protesters tried to break through to approach the PICC, police said.

A territorial dispute over the South China Sea and the deadly Paris terrorist attacks cast a shadow over the annual Apec discussions which usually focus only on trade.

A draft copy of the final Apec declaration released  Thursday  said leaders at the Apec summit “strongly condemn” all acts of terror and stressed the “urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism.”

World leaders at the summit tackled issues such as climate change and regional economic cooperation, but the dispute over the resource-rich South China Sea came to the foreground when US President Barack Obama called on China to stop its reclamation work in disputed reefs.

During his visit in Manila, Obama also signed defense agreements with the Philippines, one of several countries which is in dispute with China on the issue.

Obama said there was a need for “bold steps to lower tensions” in the region.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also attended the conference.

China says its work is legal and it has no plans to militarize the new artificial islands.

Topics: Apec Summit , Traffic , Manila
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