400 cops to Leyte for Pope visit

SOME 400 police officers from Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) 7 will be sent today to Tacloban City to help secure the visit of Pope Francis on Jan. 17.

Supt. Clifford Gairanod, battalion commander of RPSB 7, said they will form part of the Security Task Force Papal Visit 2015 as augmentation force where they will provide route security.

“We have been training for several months. We are very prepared for any eventualities,” he told reporters yesterday.

The RPSB 7 personnel will be divided into five companies. They will be deployed in the route where the pope will pass through such as in Palo and Tacloban City, both in Leyte.

Before the deployment of these officers, Gairanod said they underwent civil disturbance management (CDM) and search and rescue (SAR) trainings, aside from route and VIP security.

They will also bring provisions on the cargo plane enough for two weeks.

Last Thursday, a memorandum was issued to regional police offices in Metro Manila and Eastern Visayas that a gun ban will be imposed during the Pope’s visit.

The memo covers all gun holders, including members of the police, military and law enforcement agencies. It states that firearms should not be brought inside places of worship, public drinking and amusement places.

On the RPSB 7’s part, Gairanod said it is his discretion whether to let the officers bring armaments considering that there are still reports of rebels in Eastern Visayas.

A security team, composed of fully-armed police officers, will be included in the five companies.
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