Obama visit in the Philippines means no-fly, no-sail zones; red alert up

File Photo: President Aquino and US President Barack Obama.

The entire country may as well be in a state of alert for the overnight visit here of US President Barack Obama.

Military units assigned to support the Presidential Security Group (PSG), the lead agency providing security for Obama, have been placed on red alert.

A no-fly zone around Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) is to be implemented on Obama's arrival on Monday and his departure the following day.

Meanwhile, there will also virtually be a no-sail zone on Monday on the Pasig River, on whose banks MalacaƱang Palace sits.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, the AFP Public Affairs Office chief, explained that only those Armed Forces units assigned to support the PSG in securing Obama, like the Joint Task Force NCR (National Capital Region), were on red alert.

He said the rest of the military units, including the AFP General Headquarters, were on blue alert. This means that 50 per cent of the personnel are on duty 24/7.

But the military has "contingency forces on standby that would be ready to react" if necessary, he said.

The contingency forces include troops, aircraft, land vehicles and other military assets, Zagala said.

The military is also ready to provide troops from the Civil Disturbance Management if the need arises to augment the forces of the Philippine National Police, he said.

Zagala said the PSG is coordinating the security protection for Obama with the US Secret Service.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has issued a notice to airmen (Notam) disallowing general aviation aircraft like business jets, planes for flight training, fish runs and food runs from taking to the air during the US President's flights into and out of Naia.

According to CAAP Operations Rescue and Coordination Center chief Jo Lim, the temporary no-fly zone will cover an area within 39 to 72 kilometers from the Manila approach to Naia. This means the no-fly zone covers the Sangley, Lipa and San Ildelfonso airports.