MALACAÑANG has called for the cooperation of the laity during Pope Francis’ Concluding Mass at Luneta Park on Jan. 18, issuing guidelines to ensure the security of the event.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a press briefing on Jan. 8 that people would be prohibited from using bags and backpacks. Bringing food, drinks, and other valuables are allowed as long as they are placed inside clear and transparent containers.

The faithful are also encouraged to use hats and raincoats instead of umbrellas.

“Hinihimok ang lahat na maging mahinahon at sumunod sa gabay at mga patakarang paiiralin upang mapangalagaan ang seguridad ng Santo Papa at mga mananampalatayang nais siyang makita,” Coloma told reporters at Malacañan Palace.

Rizal Park and Quirino Grandstand will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Jan. 18. Unauthorized people are enjoined from going to “secured areas” and car passes will only be issued to accredited vehicles, Coloma said.

Coloma said safety measures were scrutinized, adding that they had reviewed previous papal visits by Pope Paul VI (1970) and Pope John Paul II (1981 and 1995), the Feast of the Black Nazarene (2013), and the ULTRA stampede (2006) as part of security preparations.

The Palace also said the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) would release a traffic-rerouting plan for the Papal Visit soon after the Feast of the Black Nazarene held yesterday (Jan. 9).

The guidelines were announced following a meeting among President Benigno Aquino III, cabinet members, and church officials, where Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista was designated as the point person for security preparations for the Papal Visit alongside AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang and Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, Philippine National Police officer-in-charge.

Present during the meeting were Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle; Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, the papal nuncio; Monsignor Chibuike Onyeaghala of the apostolic nunciature; Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; and Manila archdiocesan vicar Fr. Rufino Sescon, Jr.

Along with Coloma, cabinet members in the meeting were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., secretaries Albert del Rosario, Mar Roxas, Leila de Lima, Rene Almendras, Rogelio Singson, Voltaire Gazmin, Ramon Jimenez, Jun Abaya, Mario Montejo, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad, and acting Health Secretary Janette Garin. Gena Myrtle P. Terre


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