Palace urges crowds in Pope Francis visit to cooperate, prevent stampede
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has sought the public’s cooperation ahead of Pope Francis’ visit this week, wary of a stampede in big gatherings such as the concluding Mass in Manila next Sunday (Jan. 18).
“Walk-through” rehearsals were held at the Palace grounds on Sunday (Jan. 11) for Francis’ meeting with President Aquino on Friday, an event that will also gather senior government officials and members of the diplomatic corps.
A dry run of the papal motorcade from the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City has been set on Monday (Jan. 12), said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
Coloma echoed Aquino’s appeal for cooperation to ensure that the Pope’s visit would be orderly.
“The government cannot do this alone,” the President had said.
Of particular concern for the government are gatherings in Luneta in Manila and Tacloban City in Leyte where Francis will hold separate Masses.
“In big gatherings, there is also a big chance that even a minor commotion could lead to a big one or even a stampede,” Coloma said over Radyo ng Bayan.
The Palace urged participants to remain calm and follow instructions from designated ushers and marshals during gatherings.
“The President believes that we can ensure an orderly and meaningful visit by our beloved Holy Father with the cooperation of everyone,” Coloma said.
The Philippines is no stranger to papal visits, having hosted Blessed Paul VI in 1970 and now St. John Paul II in 1981 and 1995.
Paul VI’s visit was marred by an assassination attempt by Bolivian painter Benjamin Mendoza. Disguised as a priest, he managed to get close to the Pontiff then stabbed him at the Manila International Airport.
The Pope went on with his visit, preferring not to disclose that he had been actually wounded in the attack.
Originally posted: 8:14 PM | Sunday, January 11th, 2015
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