By: Butterworth, Catrice / OG3
Success Seen Through Security Lenses
Success is explained as a defining moment that brings about a sense of achievement; this may be in a form of conquering a goal or mandate. In terms of VIP security, success is thus defined as the attainment of a condition where no harm is inflicted on the Guest of Honor especially to our President.
One of the Presidential Security Group’s successes for this year is the visit of His Excellency, President Barrack Obama to the Philippines from 28 to 29 April. In this light, we may define the success of the visit on two accounts: first, in terms of the achievement of its purpose, and second, in terms of the attainment of maximum security for the lives of our President and for President Barrack Obama and party.
President Barrack Obama’s visit to Asia may be regarded as a symbol of further strengthening and reassuring the United States’ commitment to the East. Our country was his last stop in a week-long Asian tour that included Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.
The Philippines is the United State’s oldest ally in Asia hence the visit is seen as ‘comprehensive, significant and historic’ for both states. One of the highlights of the historical event was the signing of the United States – Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement which brings about defense cooperation of both the Philippines and the United States to a higher level. This treaty reaffirms the commitment of the United States to a defense alliance, and maintains and develops our maritime security. It comes in as a timely and relevant concord especially now that Southeast Asia is amidst a territorial disputes with China, an economic and military giant.
This year, the Philippines has welcomed four heads of states namely His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, His Excellency Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul the Prime Minister of Malaysia, President Tony Tan Keng Yam of Singapore and President Anote Tong of the Republic of Kiribati. Among the previous heads of states visits for this year, the visit of President Barrack Obama can be categorized as one of the most challenging events the Command had to prepare for since a state visit from one of the most powerful and influential leader presents a challenge particularly now that threats to the national government from the CPP and terrorist groups still exist and thrive in the region.
The security of the President of the Philippines and of the President of the United States was the primary concern of the Presidential Security Group during the two-day visit. Achieving the success in terms of security was made through careful and early coordination and planning with the Philippine Navy, Coast Guard, Philippine Army, Philippine National Police and other counterparts.
The Command held numerous conferences and briefings that brought about sleepless nights and hard work that began several months before the arrival of His Excellency Barrack Obama. Asides from conferences and daily meetings, convoy vehicles and routes, timing of take-off and landing were rehearsed to ensure proper, safe and timeliness of the visits, which are crucial steps in achieving security. The mentioned significant steps were conducted as precautionary measures that are not ordinary routines compared to previous Heads of States visits. In addition, the aim was not only to provide security and guarantee safety but also to demonstrate quality and perfection to at least meet the needs of the President and to set the standard as to what the United States Secret Service provides.
The event was a success despite a large threat predisposed to the President of the United States. The Presidential Security Group along with other agencies such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Metro Manila Development Authority and establishment securities such as the PICC and Sofitel in-house security properly prepared close coordination and accurate execution of the plans. In addition, the protective security operation, smooth coordination, discipline and expertise portrayed by the officers and personnel of this command brought about a laudable outcome.
The hardworkand effort that the Command in general finally paid-off since the President of the United States (POTUS) left the country, ‘safe and sound’. To conclude, success therefore was achieved by the Presidential Security Group because security was attained by means of keeping the Guest of Honor from any potential threats, harm and embarrassment.
Once President Barrack Obama safely entered the famous Air Force One, Officers and Personnel who were in the Group Operations Center, shouted “YES!”. “YES!”—A one word victory statement that made the pressure, tension and worry-filled atmosphere suddenly cheerful since everybody who took part in the preparation saw the hardship that they went through finally become a success.