MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday announced that two battalion sized units will be deployed to secure Pope Francis who will be visiting the country by January next year.
Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, AFP chief-of-staff, has tasked the 7th and 8th Philippine Contingent to the Golan Heights to form part of the security team for the Pope.
The two units are part of the AFP’s Peacekeeping Operations Center, military public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.
Currently, the Philippines has suspended deployment to peacekeeping operations in Golan Heights, Syria.
The recently returned peacekeepers from the previous mission to Golan Heights, as well as the unit that is set to replace them, are on standby status.
In the meantime, the AFP is committing these two battalions to support the Philippine National Police in securing the papal visit.
Zagala said these units will be put under the operational control of the PNP which is in charge of the overall security for the pontiff’s four-day visit to the country.
He added that the peacekeepers’ experience beyond Philippine borders may serve them well as many people from all walks of life are expected to come to the Philippines to see the Pope.
“We believe that their exposure and experience in peacekeeping operations in Syria will be beneficial towards the successful security of Pope Francis’s papal visit to the Philippines,” Zagala concluded.