AFTER 19 YEARS, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) comes home to the Philippines. Throughout the launch last year until now, meetings of different officials convened in distant locations of the country from Laoag City, Ilocos Norte to the Queen City of the South, Cebu City.
On the middle of this month, we will witness the culmination of the yearlong saga of meetings with the President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) and 20 heads of government of their respective member economies, waving their hands as a symbol of pledging interdependence of the Asia-Pacific trading bloc.
APEC’s roster in a nutshell
Conceived and convened in 1989 in Canberra, Australia, APEC began with 12 member economies, including the Philippines. Two years later, two Chinas (People’s Republic of China and Chinese Taipei) and Hong Kong (then a British colony) joined the club. Another two years passed, Mexico and Papua New Guinea admitted to the APEC club. A year after (1994), APEC approved Chile’s admission to the forum. Four years later (in 1998), Peru, Russia and Vietnam finally got their ticket to the summit and became the recent members of the current 21 member economy roster.
Who will be there in the summit?
During the summit, we will see the heads of government (presidents and prime ministers) in Barong Tagalog, our national raiment.
Some heads of government will certainly attend to the invitation:
- U.S. President Barack Obama will be back in Manila since his state visit last April 2014,
- Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, will finally meet P-Noy after his state visit nine months earlier,
- Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will visit the Philippines for the second time but first to meet P-Noy. (FACT: Peña Nieto visited the Philippines for the first time last September 2014 and met with the President’s youngest sister, Kris, on his behalf.)
- Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha will return after his state visit to country last August.
However, despite Chinese president Xi Jinping’s invitation to the summit, he would snub the summit due to the recent ruling at The Hague on the first round of the West Philippine Sea dispute.
Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) does not let their President (Ma Ying-Jeou) represent to the summit in order to avoid political tension against the Bigger China. Thus, they have to send a special delegate. In this case, Vincent Siew, their former Vice President, will represent the said member economy.
Since the last summit in Beijing, China, two member states have their heads of government change:
- Australia: Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister following their ruling party’s leadership election last September, and
- Canada: Justin Trudeau, son of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (1968-79 and 1980-84), replaced Stephen Harper as Prime Minister following their general election last October.
Issues arising at home
Last September, the abduction of two Canadians and a Filipina in the Island Garden City of Samal shocked on how delegates would be treated on the summit. Two weeks later, one of the suspects behind the abduction are nabbed.
Recently, in the middle of the All Saints’ Day exodus, the bullet planting scheme (laglag bala) in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was exposed and emanated outraged over social media. The modus operandi stole the spotlight and became an “international embarrassment,” according to TIME, a famous international news magazine. This would add the need for maximum security of delegates and leaders.
Verdict ng madla: different voices
Unlike the Papal visit last January, instead of generally positive remarks for most Filipinos, there will be mixed reactions on the forthcoming summit, ranging from disgust for die-hard leftist militants to hopefulness for laissez-faire apologists.
Since February, numerous protests from the left wing persistently cry out the words: “imperialists,” “Junk APEC!” and “Philippines Not For Sale!” but such outside rallies, in the minds and fingers of the netizens, would draw ire and would definitely make a backfire.
How the Turf will see the summit coverage?
Since the launch, the Media ng Bayan (People’s Television, particularly) devoted certain airtime on their news programs on APEC meetings and carried few of them. Recently, transmitters of Telebisyon ng Bayan from Visayas were finally restored from their several years’ dormancy, just in time to cover the four-day event. The Turf believes that the MNB will be certainly busy and certainly watching for in covering the culminating event.
For CNN Philippines, it is reasonably probable to cover the main event of the summit.
For the Big 3’s mainstream channels (ABS-CBN, TV5 and GMA), it is too early to call, as the chance of covering the APEC Summit is remote compared to the Pope Francis’ visit.
ABS-CBN Sports + Action, as the channel’s name intends, would not allow cover the summit; thus, it must be assigned to news channels: AksyonTV and GMA News TV.
The former may secure better coverage but the latter will get more spotlight as GNTV was tagged unreliable for snubbing the visit of the Pope (by separate feed with low coverage) and the last State of the Nation Address of P-Noy (by not participating). Covering this second most important event of 2015 will be a make or break in Strata 2000. Will they end out with a good remark or a strikeout for the year? Let’s just wait and see.
In the cable arena, the refreshed ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) will be a sure coverage as well as for TV5’s Bloomberg Philippines.
In the end, this coming event will hopefully be like what the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be expected: “generally peaceful.”
To conclude the APEC 2015 post, here’s a throwback commercial from the first APEC hosting:
Where were you then? Tell us.
Welcome, leaders and delegates to APEC Philippines 2015!
PHOTOS COURTESY OF: asccc.pids.gov.ph and Wikimedia Commons