NAIA boosts security ahead of ASEAN Summit

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 26) — Heads of state touch down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) ahead of the ASEAN Summit this week.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei arrives on Wednesday evening, followed by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak the next day.

The delegations of Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Singapore will fly in on Friday.

Read: Regional leaders, officials to gather for 30th ASEAN Summit

It's all hands on deck across all terminals of NAIA, with not only ASEAN VIPs but also hundreds of delegates attending the summit.

It also coincides with the Labor Day long weekend, when many Filipinos travel.

For the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), security is the top priority during these busy times.

MIAA General Manager Octavio Lina said security preparations of the Presidential Security Group, PNP-Aviation Security Group, airport police, and the Pasay and Parañaque local governments are in full swing.

Airport personnel are also out in full force, with all terminal managers, duty managers, and staff on hand.

Despite the tight security and strict operations, the MIAA assures the public the ASEAN Summit will not affect other travelers in the airport.

"As far as the movement of passengers or non-passengers in the airport is concerned, wala tayong nakikitang restriction [We don't see any restrictions]... All heads of state, dadating [will be arriving] by chartered flight. Special arrangement ang gagawin natin doon [We will be making special arrangements for that]," Lina said.

He added that airport staff are capable of handling international events of this scale. The country also hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting last November in Pasay.

Moreover, the MIAA does not expect as many travelers since the Holy Week just finished and the holidays for the ASEAN Summit were announced just last Monday.

When passengers were asked whether they were restricted by the intensified security, they said they felt no changes.

"Wala naman, okay lang... Ang ano lang, yung haba ng pila sa Immigration. Yun lang, wala naman," Vima En said.

[Translation: It was okay... There was a long line at Immigration, but that was it.]

Another passenger, Lin Ai-Mei, said: "Hindi naman, wala naman silang higpit. Mabilis lang. Sa akin mabilis lang siya. Wala silang ganito ganoon, dire-diretso lang."

[Translation: They were not more strict than usual. For me, it was fast.]

Read: LOOK: ASEAN 2017 traffic rerouting scheme

Passengers were even delighted with the ASEAN festivities at the airport -- taking photos and enjoying the music performed by a welcome band.

An ASEAN delegate gave everything a two thumbs up.

Balamurugan Ratha Krishnan of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore Growth Triangle Secretariat said, "It was a fantastic experience. It was very fast...We have a special ASEAN lane. And we have people at all the counters to assist us, even including the baggage clearance and also immigration clearance."

"And as well we feel a very warm welcome... with the Philippines music here and the ASEAN sign. I think the fever of the ASEAN summit already starts here in the airport itself," he added.

For ASEAN participants, the summit is off to a strong start with a smooth arrival here in NAIA.