Agitated, disorganized crowds outside Luneta Mass site
MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The "quadrant" system may be working for the crowd inside Luneta for Pope Francis' concluding Mass on Sunday afternoon, January 18, but outside was a crowd visibly agitated and disorganized hours before the Mass was even scheduled to begin.
By 6 am at Maria Orosa Street corner Kalaw, the crowd would burst into chanting, urging marshals to open the gates right away. The sole public entrance for the public Mass is at Orosa, where nearly 30 metal detectors and screening machines are located.
Security officials earlier warned the public getting past the security barriers would take time since each bag and person would have to be scanned.
Cops were supposed to man the stretch of Kalaw, where a route should be cleared to allow the Pope to pass.
But Mass goers breached security barriers early, filling the street leading to the Orosa entrance even before 6 am. There were reports of pushing and running, and some getting hurt in the process.
Past 7 am, National Capital Region chief Police Director Carmelo Valmoria arrived in the area to clear the road. Interior secretary Manuel Roxas II arrived a few minutes later to lead crowd control operations himself.
"The crowd came before the police," Roxas told Rappler. Kalaw was eventually cleared at around 8 am.
Certain roads leading to the papal mass venue are being kept clear to avoid a repeat of the 1995 scenario where the pontiff was flown in and out of the venue via a helicopter, because the papal motorcade route was filled with throngs of people.
As of 9 am, with the Pope scheduled to head to the University of Santo Tomas around that time, police were still clearing Orosa so the popemobile could pass later – as originally planned.
According to the police, the quadrants were filed up by 8 am and that they finally cleared Kalaw corner Maria Orosa at around 9:30 am. The popemobile, which left the Apostolic Nuncio at 9:15 am, got through without any hitches. – Rappler.com