MORE THAN 5,000 Thomasian students and around 200 university faculty and support staff will form a “human barricade” to manage the thousands of people set to flock UST on Jan. 18, when Pope Francis meets the youth and leaders of other religions.

Evelyn Songco, assistant to the rector for student affairs, said UST was expecting more than 10,000 student-volunteers, but only 5,000 had committed as of Wednesday.

Songco told the Varsitarian university organizers would be extending the cut-off for accepting student-volunteers until Tuesday, Jan. 16.

Meanwhile, Arnel de Gloria, chief operations officer of the Sampaloc Police Station, said the police had come up with a traffic scheme and contingency plans to ease traffic congestion and address security risks.

The UST papal event’s security arrangements are a result of interagency coordination involving the Philippine National Police represented by Rolando Nana, the Presidential Security Group represented by Edralin Poblete, and the UST Security Office headed by Joseph Badinas.

“Ina-assure namin na walang magiging aberya, walang magiging threat, base na rin sa mga paghahanda na isinasagawa samin, kaya nagkakaroon kami ng interagency coordination,” De Gloria said. “Nag-create kami ng contingency plan kung may stampede or any scenario na mangyayari.”

De Gloria said in a briefing with almost 200 UST cluster heads and team leaders on Thursday (Jan. 8) that major roads surrounding UST would be closed to vehicles as early as 12 midnight of Jan. 18.

“Nag-create kami ng traffic plan para hindi naman magbara yung buong UST. S’yempre iba pa rin yung preparation ng security ng Pope,” De Gloria said.

De Gloria said España Boulevard would be barred to vehicles from Mabuhay Rotanda to Morayta, while Lacson would be closed from Nagtahan to Dimasalang.
Dapitan will also be shut to vehicles from Dos Castillas to Andalucia while P. Noval will be closed from Dapitan to España.

De Gloria said UST España gates 1, 2 and 3 would be open to the public, including Thomasians who are not papal volunteers. UST España gates 5 and 6 will be open to media and performers, while UST P. Noval gate 7 will be open to persons with disabilities, he said.

UST P. Noval gate 8 will be designated for bishops, priests, and VIPs, while UST Dapitan gates 9, 10, 11, and 12 will be for Thomasian student volunteers, cluster heads, and team leaders.

Songco said camping inside the campus would not be allowed. Students will be prohibited from entering the campus from Jan. 15 as the Manila city government has suspended classes and government work from Jan. 15 to Jan. 19.

However, Songco clarified that Thomasian papal volunteers and cluster leaders would be allowed to stay overnight at designated buildings like the Tan Yan Kee Student Center, St. Raymund de Peñafort Building, the Benavides high school building, and St. Martin de Porres Building.

Also, UST will be a “carless” university, as all vehicles will be pulled out of campus for security reasons. Jerome P. Villanueva


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