AFP to deploy 7,000 soldiers for Pope Francis visit
MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines will deploy about 7,000 soldiers for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.
“There will be about 6 to 7,000 soldiers. We are also mobilizing about 5,000 reservists,” AFP chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr. told reporters on Tuesday at Camp Aguinaldo.
Air cover and sniper teams will also be posted along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
“Air cover means security air patrols to ensure that all the routes that will be undertaken or will be availed by the pope will be secured,” said Air Force chief Lieutenant General Jeffrey Delgado.
“Most likely we’ll limit the air space for air cover,” he said.
Catapang said the preparations for the pope’s visit was a “challenge.”
“It is a security challenge in a way, but we can handle it. We will just make do of available forces, we’ll join forces with the [Philippine National Police]. The PNP is the biggest contingent,” Catapang said.
There have been no security threats on the pope’s visit except for the crowd surge, the AFP chief noted.
“Our greatest worry is the surge of people,” he said.
“This year will be the greatest security challenge that we can have. We have the pope visit. The upcoming Apec (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) is also a challenge because we will see about state visitors or head of states coming in,” Catapang said.
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