MANILA, Dec 9 (Mabuhay) — Pope Francis’ itinerary for his Philippine visit will not likely be changed because of typhoon “Ruby” (international name “Hagupit”), according to Fr. Anton Pascual, chair of the papal visit media relations subcommittee.
Pascual said the Pope’s trip here serves as his expression of support for the survivors of recent disasters.
The pontiff is set to visit Tacloban and Palo in Leyte — areas ravaged by typhoon “Yolanda” (international name “Haiyan”) last year.
He is also expected to meet with survivors from these places as well as those from Bohol, where a devastating quake rocked the province also last year.
“Precisely the Holy Father, Pope Francis, is coming to the Philippines to be in solidarity with the victims of calamities,” Pascual said.
Meanwhile, government’s chief protocol officer, Ambassador Marciano Paynor, said the Tacloban airport will be operational in time for the Pope’s visit next year.
The city’s gateway has not been fully rehabilitated yet after Yolanda, and it was not spared from the wrath of Ruby.
“We have been assured by the Department of Transportation and Communications that the airport in Tacloban will be ready for the Pope’s arrival in January. They will have to make a technical inspection and see whether this Ruby had made any inroads into the surface of the airport, but we will await the results of their technical inspection,” Paynor said.
Another concern of government is ensuring the Pope’s security.
Authorities have long been committed to keeping the pontiff safe.
But with Pope Francis being known as a Pope of surprises, securing him could be a tricky task, which is why Paynor has this call for the faithful who are raring to get a glimpse of Pope Francis here in the Philippines.
“We are requesting that all the people join us in ensuring that the Pope’s safety is assured here… If our people will contain themselves, their enthusiasm, and allow for the Pope to pass through — it’s tall order but I think it can be done,” Paynor said.
“We’re asking the people to help us — be more disciplined, stay where you’re supposed to stay. We’re providing everyone an opportunity to see the Pope, so no one should be rushing and pushing, because that’s where it all starts,” he added. (MNS)