Manila giving traffic constables adult diapers so they can stay put at posts during Pope's visit

MANILA - The Philippine capital's main traffic regulator is giving its constables thousands of adult diapers to keep them pinned to their posts during Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines next week.

In a radio interview, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chief Francis Tolentino said the first batch of 2,000 diapers will be issued to enforcers assigned to oversee traffic for the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Jan 9.

"We'll also use it for the papal visit," said Mr Tolentino.

Tens of thousands of devotees are expected to begin descending on Manila's Quiapo district for the Feast of the Black Nazarene on the evening of Jan 8.

The feast's highlight is a long procession of a blackened statue of Jesus carrying a cross that devotees believe grants miracles.

During the procession, thousands of barefoot devotees gather in a swirling mob jostling to touch the statue.

The Manila city government has already closed several roads along the procession route, and advised motorists to stay away from Quiapo on Jan 9.

For the papal visit, the national government is mobilising a fifth of its 150,000-strong police force and over 7,000 soldiers to control crowds and secure Pope Francis during his stay here from Jan 15 to Jan 19.

The Philippine Air Force will provide air cover and snipers will be positioned on rooftops around venues where the pontiff will lead key events.

President Benigno Aquino's own security unit will serve as the Pope's personal bodyguards.

rdancel@sph.com.sg