PH shows it can secure a pope

MANILA, Philippines – The end of Pope Francis' state and pastoral visit also means the end of one big security nightmare.

Carmela Fonbuena reports.

Pope Francis leaves the Philippines for Rome after short departure honors led by President Benigno Aquino III.

This is the 44th event of the Pope in the country and the last that security officials need to tick off their list of responsibilities in his 5-day stay.

As flag carrier, Philippine Airlines takes the final responsibility to bring him home.

The pope's visit is one big security nightmare. He is not just a head of state, he is the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world.

The last time a pope visited the Philippines was in 1995 and there was a real threat. The Philippines foiled an Al Qaeda plot to assassinate Pope John Paul.

Crowd control is a challenge they hurdled this time. Twenty years ago, the crowd in Luneta for the mass – about 5 million – was so thick that Pope John Paul was forced to ride a chopper instead of his popemobile to get to the Quirino Grandstand.

On Sunday, January 18, the crowd was bigger but it was a smooth ride to Luneta.

Shortly before he left for Rome, the Pope invited government officials to the nunciature to personally thank them.

There were a few problems here and there, but it was, generally, a job well done.

Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Manila.