MANILA, September 4, 2014 – Tough guys can get excited too over the Holy Father’s coming to the Philippines, apparently. This is what Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang revealed during a recent press conference on the upcoming papal visit, saying the military will do its best to protect the pope.
“We are so elated and awaiting the visit so we won’t fail the pope during his visit here,” the country’s top military commander said.
Speaking before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines at Holiday Inn – Ortigas, Catapang also said there is a “very elaborate security plan” for Pope Francis’ safety during his trip to certain places in Luzon and in the Visayas.
“He’ll be safe,” Catapang, AFP Chief of Staff, assured the public even while the AFP intelligence community is still verifying reports that several Filipinos have opted to join the Islamic State.
Pope Francis is the third Successor of Peter to visit the Philippines. In November 1970, Pope Paul VI visited Manila and spoke before the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. On November 27,1970, Pope Paul VI was targeted for an assassination attempt by one Benjamin Mendoza y Amor Flores at the Manila International Airport. The Pontiff was unharmed.
Newly-canonized St. Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines in February 1981 and spoke before different groups in Davao, Bacolod, Cebu, Legazpi, Baguio, Morong in Bataan and returned for the World Youth Day in January 1995. It was the largest papal crowd ever.
Pope Francis’ Apostolic visit will take him to the heart of typhoon “Haiyan’s” wrath in Eastern Visayas. (Melo M. Acuna)