MANILA – A lawmaker called on the police and the military to tighten security arrangements for Pope Francis’ visit to the country next week.
Calling to mind the knife attack against Pope Paul VI in 1970 and the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II during the 1995 World Youth Day celebration, Valenzuela City First District Representative Sherwin Gatchalian said the country may not be safe for the pope.
"The Papal visits in 1970 and 1995 showed that the Philippines is not that safe as far as the popes are concerned since those who want to inflict harm on the leader of the Roman Catholic Church can go around any security measure if they are determined to do so," said Gatchalian.
"That the President himself is not satisfied with the security arrangements is an indication that the PNP and AFP should double up and fine-tune their security plans for Pope Francis."
In 1970, a Filipino armed with a knife tried to attack Pope Paul VI.
Likewise, in 1995, Philippine officials foiled Ramszi Ahmed Yousef’s plan to assassinate Pope John Paul II. Yousef was later convicted for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and the 1994 foiled bombing of a Philippine Airlines flight to Japan.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police announced that 25,000 policemen would be deployed in all areas where the pope would pass and stay.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) also started erecting concrete barriers along the stretch of Roxas Boulevard and other roads where Pope Francis would pass.
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang has likewise said that the military would be on red alert from January 15-19.
The military will also tap 100 snipers to further secure the venues the Pope will visit.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has likewise declared that all areas the Pope will visit are no-fly zones.
Airline companies such as Cebu Pacific, Tiger Air and Air Asia have likewise cancelled flights on the Papal Visit days.