Pope's visit: 10 things on the security and logistical operations in the Philippines

Pope Francis (centre), riding on a 'Popemobile', waves to Filipino well wishers at a street to lead a mass at the Manila cathedral, in Manila, Philippines on Jan 16, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
Pope Francis (centre), riding on a 'Popemobile', waves to Filipino well wishers at a street to lead a mass at the Manila cathedral, in Manila, Philippines on Jan 16, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

No state visitor to the Philippines requires security and logistical arrangements as extensive and detailed as Pope Francis.

Capital Manila is in lockdown for the entire five-day visit by the 78-year-old pontiff. Nearly 40,000 soldiers and police have been deployed in the largest ever peacetime armed mobilisation in the country.

Here's a quick look at other security and logistical arrangements:

1. President Benigno Aquino is personally overseeing security arrangements, as he raised concerns over potential stampedes, Islamic militants and lone-wolf assailants. Before the pope's arrival on Thursday (Jan 15), Mr Aquino inspected the route which the motorcade will take from the airport - from Villamor Air Base to the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila where the pontiff will stay. It was said that even minute details didn't escape the sharp eyes of the president.

2. Helicopters are providing Pope Francis with air cover and an emerency exit in case he gets mobbed or finds himself in the middle of a stampede. Gunboats are also on standby, in case he has to be evacuated by sea.

3. A five-day national holiday has been declared till Jan 19. Schools, courts, banks, stock markets, government offices and consular services have all been shut down.

4. "No-fly, no-sail" zones have been imposed around venues where the pope will visit. Flying schools have been instructed to ground their planes, while drone enthusiasts have been warned to leave their toys at home.

5. Airlines have cancelled flights scheduled on Jan 15 and Jan 19 - the arrival and departure dates of the pope

6. A subway station near where the Pope is staying has been shut.

7. Strict protocols are being implemented around venues where Pope Francis is scheduled to speak. Those going to all papal events have been instructed to bring raincoats instead of umbrellas, and to stash their belongings inside transparent plastic bags, instead of inside backpacks.

8. Field hospitals manned by some 8,000 volunteer doctors and Red Cross personnel have been set up since Jan 12 around the sprawling Luneta park, where about six million people are expected to attend the open-air Mass on Jan 18. Snipers will take positions around the park.

9. Three popemobiles were prepared - a Kia popemobile from South Korea, an Isuzu popemobile and a jeepney-type popemobile made in the Philippines. The vehicles, manufactured based on the specifications of the Vatican, allow all to see the pope and enable him to get out easily to meet the people. The Kia popemobile will be used on his visit to Tacloban City on Jan 17 and the jeepney popemobile for the Mass at Quirino Grandstand on Jan 18. The Isuzu popemobile is used for other events.

10. The state weather agency has sent a mobile radar system to Tacloban city to better gauge the weather conditions. The pope will visit communities in Tacloban devastated by typhoon Haiyan. Residents of homes along roads that the motorcade will travel from the airport to a cathedral in Palo town, Leyte province, have been advised not to climb on their roofs and to keep their windows shut.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.