PH military on frenzy on security of Pope Francis.
As the Apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines on January 15 to 19 approaches, the military establishment and other sectors tasked to secure the Pontiff join heads for the purpose.
The Philippine Air Force’s chief Lt. Gen. Jeffey Delgado on Tuesday said that they will recommend to President Benigno S. Aquino III that a “no-fly zone” be implemented on the airspaces of Manila, Tacloban and Palo, Leyte.
This means that no aircraft can be allowed to fly above these cities as long as activities involving Pope Francis are ongoing. It will also involve deployment of all available air assets in Manila, Tacloban and Palo to ensure maximum security.
Earlier, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said that air cover will be provided to the Pontiff and his convoy while trekking the estimated 10 kilometer distance from Villamor Air Base, Pasay City to the Apostolic Nunciature in Malate, Manila on Jan. 15.
The AFP will deploy 6,000 to 7,000 soldiers to secure the Pope. This is aside from the peacekeeping contingents from the Golan Heights, Liberia and Haiti who recently returned to the country, and the 5,000 reservists who will be mobilized for the event.
Catapang said the airspace along the stretch of Roxas Blvd. will be cleared of all aircraft except those involved in securing the Pope.
The Pontiff is scheduled to arrive late in the afternoon of Jan. 15 at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.
He and his convoy will proceed to Roxas Blvd. toward the Apostolic Nunciature in Malate, Manila.
Catapang said sniper teams will be posted on six or eight high-rise buildings along the path of the Pontiff’s entourage.
Meanwhile, the government is appealing to importers and cargo owners to withdraw their cargoes from the Manila ports ahead of the Pope’s arrival.
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said they expect a disruption on the normal flow of traffic across the metropolis, thus affecting the flow of goods from the ports.
Almendras particularly cited the significant increase in refrigerated vans or reefers that are not being pulled out from the ports.
“There is not enough space in the port for refrigerated vans of the volume that we are now seeing. As a matter of fact, we have doubled the number of refrigerated vans in our Port of Manila today than is normal,” he stressed.
Almendras said that even as the country does not expect export cargoes to be brought to the pier, the government is moving out as much empty containers during the three-day holiday due to Pope’s visit. (with PNA reports)