MANILA – “We will be like the Germans and the Japanese,” reminded President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to the government and Church organizers on the strict security measures that need to be followed during Pope Francis’ visit on Thursday.
The President issued that statement during the meeting with Church officials, headed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
Aquino is scheduled to attend the Mass on Sunday, prompting added security arrangements in Luneta.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the President’s decision to attend the event will not pose bigger security threat.
“Let us trust the decision of our President,” said Coloma.
On Monday, the President addressed the public asking them for their full cooperation in order to ensure the safety of the Pope.
“Do we want the Philippines to go down in history as the country where a tragedy involving the Holy Father took place?” he asked. “It’s the government’s obligation to ensure your safety and for us to do this, you also have an obligation.”
Meanwhile, the President said that there was no “direct threat” on the Pope’s life on his visit. Nevertheless, the government is working closely with Interpol and Southeast Asian neighbors to “identify any threat whatsoever coming from any direction.”
The government already asked 25,000 to 50,000 security forces. Moreover, many of the arrangements from the organizers have been “accommodated” by the government, according to the President.
The arrival of Pope Francis is both state and apostolic, thus both the Philippine government and the Church are the host.
Initially, the government wanted an enclosed “popemobile” for the Pope. However, Aquino said that he was told that the Pope “wanted to listen to those who would come to greet him.”