AFP to deploy 12,000 troops for papal visit

Jaime Laude - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will deploy 12,000 soldiers and reservists to the Joint Task Group the government has mobilized for the massive security preparations for the visit of Pope Francis next week.

The 12,000-strong military security contingent will augment the 25,000 policemen that the Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy to Metro Manila and Tacloban City and Palo town in Leyte to ensure peace and order during the papal visit.

To further secure Pope Francis, soldiers and policemen will be occupying high-rise structures located in areas where the pontiff will be having engagements.

Pope Francis will celebrate masses at the Manila Cathedral on Jan. 16, Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City on Jan. 17 and Rizal Park on Jan. 18.

On Jan. 17, Pope Francis will also have lunch with survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda at the Archbishop’s Residence in Palo. He will then bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor also in Palo and attend a meeting with priests, consecrated persons, seminarians and families of Yolanda survivors at the Palo Cathedral.

The Philippine Air Force is utilizing all of its available air assets to enforce the “no-fly zones” and to provide air security for Pope Francis and the papal delegation.

“In a way, this is a security challenge but we can do it. We just make do with available forces,” AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the joint security forces of AFP and PNP have not monitored any threat to Pope Francis.


Tacloban, Palo ready

The venues of the papal activities in Tacloban City and Palo town are also ready, church and government officials gave assurance yesterday.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will deploy a 190-man team to Tacloban and Palo to assist in traffic management and serve as emergency paramedics. The MMDA will also send ambulances to Tacloban and Palo.

The PNP has advised all pilgrims to be aware of the “dos and don’ts” to be strictly imposed by security personnel.

Region VIII Police Director Chief Superintendent Asher Dolina urged devotees to “travel light” and cooperate with the inspecting team to avoid delays and hassles during the papal visit.

Medicine and food should be inside transparent containers or bags. The faithful are also advised not to bring backpacks and belt bags for easy inspection.

Those who will attend the papal mass at the airport are prohibited from bringing any bladed weapons, sharp objects, hard liquor and cigarettes for security reasons. The use of an umbrella is not allowed to preserve the solemnity of the mass.

Bottled water is prohibited, but water stations are pre-positioned at the airport, along papal routes and in Palo Cathedral.


Pope to wear Pinoy-made clothes

Pope Francis will don a locally made chasuble and miter for the three masses that he will celebrate.

The Vatican has made an exception to allow the host country to prepare the vestments, chasuble and miter for the pope, according to Fr. Carmelo Arada Jr. of the service committee on liturgy for the mass in Rizal Park.

Usually, the pope wears his own clothes but “during the meeting with the liturgy team of the Holy Father, they agreed that the vestments would be manufactured here in the Philippines,” Arada said. – With Evelyn Macairan, Ricky Bautista, Mike Frialde, Edith Regalado, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Danny Dangcalan










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