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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lombardi: Papal Visit Security Well Organized

Vatican is “happy” with the security arrangements laid out jointly by the country’s police and military authorities during the arrival of visiting Pope Francis yesterday.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican press director, said the papal entourage has no complaints against the security put in place in the country.  President Aquino had given particular attention to the security plan and its implementation while the Roman Catholic leader is on a four-day apostolic visit to the Philippines, the only Catholic country in the Asian region.
Described by many as a security nightmare, government authorities have taken special concern on the stringent security arrangements that may have turned off many Catholics who decided to just glue themselves to television coverage rather than personally attend the papal visit events.
Following a press conference, Lombardi told Manila Bulletin that the papal entourage has no complaints about the security as he lauded state authorities for the successful arrival ceremonies and the papal motorcade from the Villamor Air Base to the Apostolic Nunciature on Taft Avenue, Manila.
“I have nothing to say about it except that I think it was well-organized.  We were happy to come,” said Lombardi.
He added: “We have no problem whatsoever.”
Heavy and tight security arrangements were put in place by government in the wake of terrorists threats in certain parts of the country and in various foreign countries.
The Philippines had been the scene of an assassination attempt on a visiting Pontiff. The late Pope Paul VI was slightly wounded when Bolivian artist Benjamin Mendoza lunged a knife at him a short while after his arrival at the then Manila International Airport on November 27, 1970.
During the first press conference on the papal visit last night, Lombardi thanked the police and the “hundreds of thousands of Filipinos” who lined up the streets between Villamor and the Apostolic Nunciature for the successful arrival honors.
“We are very happy to finally be in the Philippines.  Already, this encounter of the Pope with the people was very impressive, important and very touching,” he declared.
The papal information officer said he sought a crowd estimate of the arrival well-wishers but got various responses.
“There was an estimate of about 700,000 people, many hundred thousand people; so I asked Cardinal (Luis Antonio) Tagle who was with the Pope.  About three million people, according to the cardinal,” he said.
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