THE entire government machinery was mobilized on Thursday to secure Pope Francis, surpassing preparations made during the state visit of US President Barack Obama.
At the forefront of such readiness are the Office of the President, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Presidential Security Group, Department of Public Works and Highways, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NRRMC), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and other government agencies.
In a press briefing, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, along with the heads of concerned government agencies, gave a ssurances that there are also plans on how to secure the Pope in a worst case scenario, like if he suffers a heart attack, is attacked by terrorists, or in danger of being pressed by the crowd.
“There are extrication plans, plans A, B, and others for the Pope. There’s a different plan for the Pope’s safety, and a different plan for the safety and security of our countrymen who will attend the event,” Roxas added.
“Our armed forces, our police, including the coast guard, MMDA, all government agencies are closely monitoring and coordinating with concerned agencies to ensure the safety of the Pope and the crowd,” he said.
Roxas dispelled earlier reports about the arrest in Manila of several suspected Islamic militants.
AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang said they are 100 percent ready even as he warned against alarmist text messages about the Pope.
“If you receive alarmist text messages, please clear it with us, it’s very important,” Catapang added. “Of course we want to assure everybody that the armed forces is very much prepared, 100 percent prepared to receive the Pope and provide safety and security during his visit.
PNP Officer-in-Charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said that they have established a number of fully manned 24-hour hotlines (117, 09178475757 and 09178475755) that people can call or text for their concerns.
Undersecretary Alexander Pamam, NDRRMC executive director, said they were on red alert following the entry of tropical storm Amang into the Philippine area of responsibility.
Pamam said they were closely monitoring the typhoon because it is expected to bring light to moderate rains in Tacloban City.
The MMDA said that some 500,000 people are expected to line up the 22-kilometer stretch of the papal route from Villamor Air Base to the Papal Nunciature in Manila.