One of the biggest concerns for the imminent visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines is his security. While priests and clergymen are in charge of everything that the pontiff may need, ranging from the hotel to food and transportation, the Philippine government's main task is to ensure the safety of the leader of the Catholic Church.
According to the Philippine National Police, over 40,000 troops as well as air force and snipers will be assigned for Pope Francis' protection. Moreover, the Presidential Security Group will provide close-in security. The pope will be escorted by 266 members of the army during his visit to Tacloban and Palo in Leyte.
PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said that the security of the pontiff is the biggest challenge for the police during the papal visit next week. Philippine authorities are expecting a difficult time ensuring his safety since the Argentinian leader of the church likes to get close to the people. In one instance, the Pope stopped along the road and kissed a sick person as well as shook the hands of the common people.
The Catholic leader will also hold a motorcade when going to his destinations, riding an open and non-bulletproof popemobile aiming to show that the Catholic Church is open and accessible to all.
Pope Francis is scheduled to fly to Manila on Jan. 15 for his four-day visit in the country. During his stay, the pope will hold several masses and meetings in the country's capital and in the province of Leyte. His main agenda in visiting the Philippines is to share a meal with the survivors of typhoon Haiyan, which destroyed a large part of the province of Leyte. Moreover, the Philippines is the country in Asia with the largest population that are members of the Catholic Church.