Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II is urging the public to help authorities keep Pope Francis safe during his maiden visit to the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19.
“Our nation is host to the Pope so let’s all help ensure security for him,” Roxas said, expecting papal activities for the visit to be jampacked.
Roxas appealed for public cooperation on government’s security measures for the Pope to help guard against untoward incidents.
People must also be vigilant in monitoring their respective areas for possible suspicious activities, particularly those that might jeopardize the Pope’s security, Roxas said.
“Don’t ignore such activities – immediately report those to authorities and help make the Pope’s visit to our country a success,” he added.
Pope Francis’ trip to the Philippines is the fourth papal visit to this predominantly Catholic nation.
In 1995 and 1981, then Pope St. John Paul II visited the country for the celebration of World Youth Day and beatification of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, respectively.
Pope Paul VI also visited the Philippines in 1970.
Authorities foiled assassination attempts on both during their 1995 and 1970 visits to the country.
Earlier, the Vatican announced Pope Francis will arrive in Manila on Thursday afternoon (Jan. 15) from his trip to Sri Lanka.
The Vatican also said the Pope’s activities on Friday (Jan. 16) will be paying a courtesy visit to presidential palace Malacanang, addressing authorities and the diplomatic corps, then celebrating Mass at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Intramuros.
His final activity on Friday will be an encounter with families at the Mall of Asia, also in Metro Manila, the Vatican noted.
Pope Francis will spend Saturday (Jan. 17) in Leyte province to celebrate Mass, have lunch with survivors of typhoon ‘Yolanda’ (international name ‘Haiyan’) and the Bohol earthquake, and bless a facility named in his honor, the Vatican continued.
Leyte is among areas ‘Yolanda’ ravaged in November 2013.
While in Leyte, the Vatican said the Pope will also meet with priests, consecrated persons, seminarians and other ‘Yolanda’ survivors before returning to Metro Manila on the same day.
Before returning to Rome on Monday (Jan. 19), the Vatican said Pope Francis will spend Sunday (Jan. 18) in Metro Manila at the University of Santo Tomas to meet with religious leaders and the youth as well as at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park to celebrate Mass.
Authorities expect Pope Francis to reiterate, during the Philippine trip, his message of mercy and compassion.
Roxas believes people must heed such message by looking after one another, including while attending activities for the papal visit.
“We’re our brothers’ keepers so let’s help everyone needing assistance,” he said.
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) expects a record-breaking six million to seven million people during Pope Francis’ Mass at Rizal Park.
CBCP said such expected attendance is more than the fivemillion-strong crowd that flocked to Rizal Park in 1995 for then-Pope St. John Paul II’s Mass there.
A total of 2,250 priests from different parts of the country as well as 250 local and foreign bishops will be concelebrating with Pope Francis during his closing Mass, added CBCP. PNA