Albay hurdles APEC hosting assessment with flying colors

LEGAZPI CITY – Albay has passed, with a ‘high satisfaction’ rating, an assessment made last week by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) National Organizing Council (NOC) and may even be granted more than the ten ministerial meetings it was previously awarded to host.

Albay is among few chosen venues where to hold the series of APEC Summit preparatory ministerial and working committee meetings which start later this year and go on until the actual Leaders Summit in November 2015. The NOC assessment is among the hosting tight requirements.

“Albay’s show of its best capability is impressive,” according to Revimarc De Mesa, NOC deputy director for operations, during an assessment briefing following the simulation exercises (SIMEX) February 25.

De Mesa led the NOC team which conducted the SIMEX to test the province’s readiness in terms of peace and order, security, safety, law enforcement, emergency response, infrastructures, transport services, airport facilities maintenance, etc.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, in a radio interview, said that “with such (NOC) assessment, it is reasonable to expect Albay would have additional APEC events,” adding that the province has demonstrated to the APEC organizing council its disaster response capability, something which has been a part of its daily life and had been quite perfected by the province’s emergency group, Team Albay.

Team Albay, now a well liked and multi-awarded disaster response humanitarian group has become popular in many parts of the country, for its emergency volunteer missions in search, rescue, retrieval and health assistance in disaster stricken provinces.

The SIMEX featured several scenarios including disaster response, hostage taking, plane crash, and search and rescue, participated in by different government agencies that basically composed Team Albay.

The SIMEX was undertaken by the Office of Civil Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Department of Health. Present during the exercises were Undersecretary and deputy director general for Security Natalio Ecarma III, coordinator for Spouses Program Maria Luisa Ramos, Transport coordinator Chester Tajonera and Jose Martin Delfino, member of Conference Services.

Salceda said Albay has already proven it can handle international flights in January during the opening of the Albay International Gateway at the Legazpi Airport, with two direct flights from Xiamen, China that ferried more than 300 tourists in all. The gateway has a complete processing for immigration, customs and consular requirements.

Hosting events of the APEC Summit will likely help further boost Albay’s tourism industry, one of the anchors of “Albay Boom,” Salceda’s strong bid for economic growth for the province.

There will be 195 APEC-related events, including eight ministerial and five technical working committee meetings in several venues in the Philippines, including Albay, starting December, this year until October 2015. The APEC Leaders Summit will in November 2015. (PNA)


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