Philippine police arrest three for bomb joke during papal mass

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine police arrested three people for cracking jokes about a bomb while on their way to attend Pope Francis's mass in Manila, an official said on Tuesday.

The man and two women were arrested at a police checkpoint on Sunday while heading to the mass in Rizal Park which attracted a record six million people, said officer Alberto de Guzman of Manila police radio control office.

As they went through the checkpoint, witnesses heard one of the three saying: "Hey, I've got a bomb. Why didn't you detect it?" de Guzman said.

His companions then joked about carrying guns, de Guzman said.

"They were making fun of the police officers. If people had heard them, it could have caused a stampede," he told AFP.

The three are being held under a law that penalises "pranksters" who make false reports about bombs. The crime is punishable up to five years in jail or a fine of 40,000 pesos (S$1,195) or both.

Security was tight during the five-day visit of Pope Francis to the devoutly Catholic Philippines, with police and soldiers on alert to control the massive crowds.

The pope returned to the Vatican on Monday, with his trip hailed as a huge success.

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