Heavy traffic expected for papal arrival dry run Monday
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Thousands of personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will be deployed Monday, January 12, to hold simulation exercises in preparation for the arrival of Pope Francis on Thursday, January 15.
On Monday, both the PNP and MMDA will hold a “functional simulation exercise” for when the Pope arrives in the country and travels via popemobile from the Villamor Airbase to the Apostolic Nunciature, or the Vatican embassy in Manila.
In a Facebook post, local airline Cebu Pacific said the simulation will begin at 6 pm, quoting the MMDA.
“There will be a caravan along the vicinity of the Villamor Airbase, Andrews Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, Quirino and the Papal residence,” the post added.
The airline advised its passengers to allocate at least 3-4 hours of travel time to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
Police will be deployed hours ahead of the Monday simulation, which will follow the Pope’s scheduled arrival on Thursday, January 15 at 5:45 pm.
Close to 20,000 personnel from the PNP alone will be deployed to secure the Pope's route from Villamor to the Apostolic Nunciature.
PNP personnel – delegates of Task Group Manila – will also be holding simulations in the other venues the Pope will be visiting during his 5-day stay in the country.
National Capital Region Police Office chief Police Director Carmelo Valmoria said these deployments – in Malacañang, the Manila Cathedral, the Mall of Asia Area, and the University of Santo Tomas – may not be as massive as the one for the Pope’s arrival.
Still, the thousands of police deployed to secure the area and crowds during the Pope’s visit will be deployed Monday, with some being sent to their designated areas as early as Sunday, January 11.
On Saturday, January 10, the PNP’s Task Group Manila gathered over 12,000 personnel from the National Capital Region Police Office, Camp Crame, and other nearby provinces for a general assembly of sorts a week before the Pope’s arrival.
Some 25,000 cops total will be deployed to secure the crowd and routes Pope Francis will take when he visits the country from January 15 to 19.
The figure includes personnel deployed to Task Group Leyte, since the Pope will spend 8 hours in the Typhoon Yolanda-hit province on January 17.
Task Group Manila and Leyte are part of the PNP’s Task Force Papal Visit 2015. The Leyte group also held simulations on Sunday, January 11.
A separate walk-through was held inside Malacañang Palace grounds on Sunday to finalize preparations, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a radio interview.
Government officials are set to announce on Monday, January 12, more details of the security preparations and guidelines for the Pope’s visit.
Coloma said Malacañang is set to disclose how much money is being spent for the entire event.
"Tinitiyak ng pamahalaan sa taumbayan na ang halagang gagastusin ay kahalintulad lamang sa budget na karaniwang inilalaan sa mga state visit ng pinuno ng ibang bansa," he said. (The government assures everyone that the amount that will be spent will be similar to what is usually allocated for state visits of leaders from other countries) – Rappler.com