The government has boosted the number of security personnel to be deployed for the duration of the visit of Pope Francis next week.
In addition to the 7,000 soldiers and 5,000 reservists from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will also mobilize 25,000 policemen, among them the 328 personnel who served as peacekeepers in Golan Heights, for a total security force of 37,000.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd on Wednesday said the security plan for the Pope’s visit has been reviewed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd .
Roxas admitted that security plans still need to be fine-tuned.
He said the President scrutinized the plans presented by various security agencies.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), we had a four-hour session led by President (Aquino). He went over the proposed security plans for each part of the Pope’s visit and critiqued them,” Roxas told reporters in Camp Crame, the PNP’s main headquarters in Quezon City.
“We still have to iron out and fortify a few things,” he said.
With only eight days left before the Pontiff’s much-awaited visit, the Interior secretary added that the concerned agencies, including the PNP, will continue to polish the security measures for the people and the Pope.
Among the agencies involved in laying down elaborate security plans for the papal visit are the National Security Agency, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the intelligence units of the military and police.
“We are doing everything to make sure the Pope is safe. Also, the security of the people is equally important,” Roxas said.
Starting on Saturday, all units of the military will be on red alert to ensure that enemies of the state will not take advantage of the Pope’s visit by mounting attacks.
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gregorio Pio Catapang also on Wednesday said the red-alert status will not be lifted until the visit of the Holy Father has been concluded.
Acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina said the police force will not be complacent even if they have not monitored any threat against the Pope.
“There is none. He’s well-loved by everybody,” Espina told reporters.
“But even if there are no threats, we always have to assume the presence of threats so we could prepare,” he said.