CEBU CITY, Philippines – "We would like to appeal to Cebuanos' sense of hospitality."
Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 7 Acting Director Chief Superintendent Manny Gaerlan echoed this appeal on the first day of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu City on Sunday, January 24.
Gaerlan, head of the security task force of the combined PNP and military resources deployed to protect IEC participants, reiterated that there has been "no reported terrorist threats" to the international conference.
About 6,000 police officers from around the region and 2,000 from the army, coast guard and other military branches have been deployed to patrol areas where international and domestic pilgrims are staying.
Delegates joining the congress are staying at hotels and in the homes of Cebuanos across the city.
About 8,000 military and police officers will help protect the registered delegates of the conference, now numbering around 12,000, with the goal of "zero incidents," Gaerlan said.
Authorities are using the security protocols used during the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which held meetings in Cebu last November, as a framework.
The conference also coincides with the January 26 visit of the Japanese emperor and empress in Manila, but Gaerlan said that the government has allocated enough resources and equipment for the security of both events.
For big gatherings taking place outside of the pavilion, he advised the public to arrive early because of traffic and they will also need time to go through security checks.
The opening mass is scheduled for 4 pm at Plaza Independencia. He said it would take at least 4 hours to process everyone who will participate in the mass.
Media and congress delegates are required to wear wristbands and IDs before being allowed to enter the IEC pavillion in Mabolo, Cebu City.
Baggage scanners and metal detectors are being set up around the pavillion's entrances and will be used on Monday, January 25.
Gaerlan said regular patrols of the city police will not be interrupted.