Palace fends off rumor on Manila ports’ closure during Pope Francis’ visit

By on January 15, 2015

Port of Manila (Wikipedia photo)
Port of Manila (Wikipedia photo)

MANILA — The Palace on Wednesday clarified that Manila’s ports will continue to operate during the visit of Pope Francis, contrary to some reports.

“Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras would like to clarify that the ports of Manila will not be closed for five days, as rumored,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a press statement issued on Wednesday.

“There had been meetings and discussions coming up with an effective plan on how to handle port operations during the time of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis.”

Secretary Almendras heads the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion.

Secretary Coloma explained that although the ports would be unable to accept outbound cargoes during the holidays, they will continue to service ships that are unloading cargoes and help move out empty containers.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has confirmed that there is no such thing as a total truck ban during the five-day holiday, Coloma said, quoting Almendras.

The Palace official also said that trucks will be allowed in the regular truck routes during the allowed hours, except routes that will be affected by the activities during the Pope’s visit.

The routes that will be temporarily closed will be re-opened once the events’ venues have been cleared, he added.

“Secretary Almendras wishes to assure businessmen, importers and exporters that the five-day event will not significantly hamper our continuous efforts for the efficient operations of the ports of Manila,” Coloma noted.

“He continues his appeal for all stakeholders to cooperate and implement the agreed plans and actions during the Pope’s visit.”

Pope Francis, who is currently in Sri Lanka, is arriving in the country on Thursday, January 15 for a five-day visit to the Philippines. The pope will attend several events in Manila as well as in Leyte during his pastoral visit.