Saturday, January 24, 2015

Buoyed by security arrangements of Papal visit, AFP, PNP look ahead to APEC

From the Website of INTERAKSYON

Buoyed by security arrangements of Papal visit, AFP, PNP look ahead to APEC

Elaborate security arrangements were put in place to secure Pope Francis in the face of crowds pressing to be close to the leader of the worldwide Catholic religion. Photograph by Romsanne Ortiguero

MANILA - Officers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) who were deeply involved in the implementation of security measures during the five-day visit of Pope Francis said they feel confident about tackling the year's next big assignment: The Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC).

"We will apply the lessons learned from the Papal Visit to the job of securing APEC," AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said.

Catapang described the successful visit of Pope Francis as "very inspiring", noting that no untoward incident happened to mar the trip that drew millions of Filipinos to line the streets and take part in public events, especially the Pope's last Holy Mass at Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park, Manila on Sunday, January 18, that was attended by a record crowd estimated at between six and seven million.

"We thank God, His Holiness Pope Francis, and the Filipino nation who displayed great discipline for the success in hosting this visit," said PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.
At least 20,000 soldiers and reservists and 25,000 policemen were deployed to secure the Pope's routes and venues of the events, in Manila and in Tacloban City and Palo, both in Leyte from January 15-19.

Pope Francis requested a personal encounter with Catapang and Espina together with their men at the Apostolic Nunciator hours before his scheduled departure for Rome.

"The pope expressed to us his appreciation for the security measures, and gave us his blessings. Well, the blessing embraces each and every soldier and police officer in the services," said Catapang.

"Everybody lent a hand in meeting the collective challenge of securing the Pope and making his visit successful," he added.

In a separate interview, AFP spokesman Colonel Resituto Padilla said that a big part of the credit should go to the Filipino people "because of their cooperation."

He echoed Catapang's personal assessment that the same security measures will also be duplicated for the APEC, with appropriate adaptations.

"The challenge, of course, is to boost and introduce improvements into the tactical aspects of the protective measures for such large-scale deployments and big events," said Padilla.

One aspect of the work, he disclosed, involved large-crowd management and learning how to dissipate tension and the strain of maintaining calm and keeping tempers at bay.