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Saturday, July 31, 2021

AFP prepares contingency plan if Pope makes a detour to Cebu

THE Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) yesterday said tropical storm Amang would either make landfall in Legaspi City in the Bicol Region or in Eastern Visayas.

Al Quiblat, chief of Pagasa Mactan, said that if Amang makes landfall in Legaspi City, the cities of Tacloban and Cebu will be hardly affected.

The weather disturbance is feared to jeopardize Pope Francis’s visit in Tacloban tomorrow and the Sinulog Grand Parade on Sunday.

But if Amang, the first weather disturbance to hit the country this year, makes landfall in Eastern Visayas, Cebu and Tacloban would experience heavy rains that may cause floods, Quiblat said.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said that Cebu is ready if Pope Francis decides to drop by.

Before leaving for Manila last Thursday, Palma told reporters that he believes that Cebu can accommodate the Pope if there is a change in the schedule. But he clarified that there is no word from the organizers of the papal visit about a change in the Pope's itinerary.

Fr. Jonas Mejares, rector of the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, said that the Cebu City Government can help ensure the security at the church premises if Pope Francis decides to come and say mass.

“If he does say mass at the Basilica, then we will accommodate him. While some activities of the Fiesta Senor might be affected, I believe people will understand,” Mejares said.

Preparations

The Central Command (Centcom) of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has made preparations for the possibility that Pope Francis would come to Cebu due to tropical storm Amang.

“We have a contingency plan,” Lt. Gen. Nicanor Vivar, commander of Centcom, told reporters yesterday.

Vivar said that the Pope would likely stay only at the airport until the weather improves before proceeding to Tacloban City.

“But who knows? We know the Pope is close to masses,” he said.

Vivar said the soldiers who are deployed for the Sinulog festivities will be pulled out to secure the Pope in case he wants to roam around Cebu. “If this happens, Cebuanos will be very happy,” he added.

In a special weather forecast, Pagasa Visayas Director Oscar Tabada said Metro Cebu will be sunny but cloudy and windy today. The wind will have a force of 20 to 30 kilometers per hour.

He said Metro Cebu will be cloudy with light to moderate rains on Saturday morning and mostly cloudy for the rest of the day. On Sunday, Cebu will be cloudy with light to moderate rain in the early morning, and mostly cloudy for the rest of the day.

Cebu will be clear and sunny on Monday, Tabada said.

Tabada said Tacloban City is forecast to have cloudy skies with light to moderate rain in the afternoon and evening today.

On Saturday, Tacloban City will have light to moderate rains in the morning, then heavy rain in the afternoon and evening with winds of 15 to 30 kilometers per hour.

On Sunday, Tacloban City is forecast to have cloudy skies.
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