AFP to be placed on ‘red alert’ for Pope Francis visit

By on January 8, 2015

Pope Francis visits the Holy Land. Twitter photo from Vatican Communication.
Pope Francis visits the Holy Land. Twitter photo from Vatican Communication.

MANILA — With Pope Francis scheduled visit to the country this coming Jan. 15 to 19, all units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be placed on “red alert” status starting this Saturday.

This was disclosed by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang in a briefing with reporters Wednesday.

Catapang said the “red alert” status, which will last until Pope Francis has safely concluded his visit to the country, is to ensure that “no enemies of the state” can take advantage of the country’s preparations and excitement for the Pontiff’s visit.

He said the number of security troops tasked to secure Pope Francis in his visit to Manila, Tacloban and Palo, Leyte has now climbed to 37,000.

This can be broken down into 20,000 for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and another 17,000 for the AFP.

Catapang said the AFP figures can be broken into 10,000 regular troops, bulk of which will come from Metro Manila, while the remaining 7,000 are from the military reservist units.

He also said that they are still to detect any security threats saved for the “temperament of the crowd” who might take this opportunity to get as near to the Pontiff as possible.

Catapang further revealed that no drones will be allowed to fly in the path of Pope Francis’ convoy.

The AFP chief also disclosed that a team of 100 snipers, mostly from the Special Forces units, will be deployed in the buildings along Roxas Boulevard to ensure the safety of the Pontiff against groups or individuals that may attempt to harm him during the scheduled event in the area.