Manila police have stepped up intelligence gathering to thwart terrorists who are planning to assassinate Pope Francis.
The pontiff, who is arriving in Manila on January 15 next year, is expected to sleep at the Papal Nunciature on Taft Avenue that is under the jurisdiction of Malate Police Station 9.
Manila police personnel are expected to be busy helping secure the pope on December 16 when he is scheduled to attend three major events.
First is the courtesy call at Malacañang Palace in the morning where Francis will be greeted by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, his Cabinet members and close friends.
This will be followed by a solemn High Mass at Manila Cathedral where he will meet the more than 2,000 bishops, priests and nuns.
Then, Francis will be holding another concelebrated Mass at Mall of Asia Arena to be attended by businessmen.
He will proceed to Tacloban City, Leyte, on the 17th before returning to Manila to attend an event at the University of Santo Tomas in the morning of the 18th before capping his visit in the afternoon for a Mass at Rizal Park (Luneta).
Pope Francis leaves Manila for the Vatican on the 19th.
A highly-reliable source, who asked not to be identified, has told The Manila Times that police intelligence operatives are combing 24 hours all restaurants, hotels and motels in Ermita-Malate area to ensure that all foreigners are accounted for.
“We have practically secured the area. All foreigners are under secret scrutiny,” the official who has a rank of superintendent (colonel in the military) told The Times.
He said security personnel will not be visible until January 15, a few hours before the arrival of the pope at Papal Nunciature.
The police source said they are looking into possible threats similar to those under the 1995 “Oplan Bojinka” that was unearthed a few days before the arrival of Pope John Paul II.
It was believed that Muslim extremist Ramzi Yousef was planning to assassinate the Polish pope.
The terror blue print surfaced after a chemical fire in a room at Doña Josefa Apartment in Malate that the terrorists were occupying.
“Oplan Bojinka” also revealed a plan to deploy suicide plane pilots to international airlines to bomb major establishments in the United States, including the World Trade Center in New York, the White House, the Pentagon and major international airports.
The plan was actually the blue print for the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States.