MANILA - Malacañang may declare the five-day visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines in January next year a holiday but advised the public to wait for an official announcement.
Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government is doing its best to make the Jan. 15 to 19, 2015 papal visit successful, and part of efforts to make it so is to ensure that every Filipino witnesses and enjoys the event.
He also said declaring a holiday would help authorities manage traffic in Metro Manila more efficiently, especially along thoroughfares where the papal motorcade is expected to pass.
“Let’s wait for the decision. We just want to give everyone the opportunity to witness the visit of the Pope,” Coloma said over the weekend in an interview over state-run dzRB.
In late November, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada declared a four-day holiday during the papal visit.
The former president explained that the city government has to ensure the security of Pope Francis when he visits the Manila Cathedral, the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, the University of Santo Tomas and the residence of the Papal Nuncio in Manila.
“We are ready to secure Pope Francis. The security preparations for him are coordinated efforts between the local and national level. We have been closely coordinating with both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the military,” Estrada said.
“We also have to secure the devotees who will sleep or stay in vigil during the pope’s visit,” he added.
The PNP earlier activated its Joint Task Force Papal Visit 2015 to ensure public safety during the visit. The Presidential Security Group was tapped to serve as close-in security for the pope’s entourage. – With Rudy Santos
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