The Philippine government has cleared 20,000 homeless people from the streets, cancelled hundreds of flights and declared public holidays in Manila for the safety of the 21 world leaders to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Officials said.

Major streets are being closed to traffic to give way and to speed up traveling of world leaders to APEC Summit and other meetings.

Presidents Barack Obama of the United States, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are those who among the world leaders who will attend the event on November 18-19.

They also include the president of Colombia, who will be an observer during the event.

“We face real security threats here…. We have to prevent even the most insignificant incident from happening because that will be a black mark on us,” head of the summit-organising committee Marciano Paynor said.

About 18,000 police are being prepared including a newly acquired robotic bomb-disposal vehicles from the United States to guard the summit venues, routes and hotels, Manila police spokesman Chief Inspector Kimberly Gonzales told AFP.

In addition, homeless people including beggars as well as street vendors are also being removed from the streets to assure the safe and fast passage of the world leaders. While protesters are being asked to gather elsewhere, Paynor said.

“It can be taken advantage of by those who want to inflict harm or at the very least embarrassment to our hosting,” he added.

Social welfare department said that more than 20,000 homeless people including child beggars had been removed in the streets of Manila in the recent months.

Homeless families were offered money for apartment rentals, officials said.

John Esconde