The Police Security and Protection Group’s road to success as the country’s forefront to secure government officials, foreign dignitaries and private individuals whose lives are under constant threat is manifested by the “zero incident” posted during the Philippines hosting of two extra-ordinary international events in 2015, the state and pastoral visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines and the series of APEC Summit meetings. This feat is the PSPG’s crowning glory by showcasing its best practices and putting its best foot forward in the preparations and actual events which resulted in the peaceful holding of the activities. The triumphs and gains of the PSPG as the premier unit of the PNP in providing protective and security services is its humble tribute on its Silver Founding Anniversary on March 21, 2016.
The five-day Pastoral Visit of His Holiness Pope Francis
“Putting our best foot forward”
Securing His Holiness Pope Francis and his official entourage during his visit to the country was not that easy, considering the volume of Catholic Filipinos and other nationalities who aspired to be part of this once in a lifetime event of catching even a glimpse of Pope Francis. The Pope’s trip to the country was a State Visit and an Apostolic Journey in different venues in Metro Manila and Leyte. It can be recalled that Pope Francis’ five-day visit in the country was exactly a decade after Pope John Paul II’s visit in January 2005, which was described as ‘security frenzy’ by the government.
Thus, providing security protection is a nightmare for the PNP since Pope Francis preferred a simple security preparation. With the leadership of the Chief, PNP PDG RICARDO C MARQUEZ, then the NTF Commander Papal 2015, he strictly implemented the policy of “zero untoward incident” and followed the principle of “Whole of Government Approach,” while the major Event Security Framework was applied during the whole duration of the activity.
As early as October of 2014, security preparations were already in place at the PNP, being at the forefront among the law enforcement agencies that took over security preparations for the renowned event. The role of the PSPG to this event was critical, being tasked to provide Mobile/Convoy Team, Route Security Officer, Traffic Management Officer, Mobile and Motorcycle Team, Route Security Personnel, PNP representatives, Action Officers and Area Securities during the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis on January 15 to 19, 2015. PCSUPT Alfred Corpus, then the Chief, Presidential Protection Unit took an active role in the overall security plan of the PNP, attending command conferences in mapping out papal security and public safety operations, mobilization of resources and deployment of police personnel for the Pontiff’s visit while the rest of the PSPG Officers and personnel were designated in various Task Groups.
The PNP placed its entire force on full alert status and more than 30,000 policemen were deployed in support to the Presidential Security Group (PSG) which was tasked to provide close-in security and safety services to the Pope and his entourage. The PNP personnel also conducted security coverage operations in the different areas of engagement of the Pope while other police units provided public safety assistance and police services for crowd control, vehicular and pedestrian traffic direction, route, parking and venue security, and securing the pontiff and his entourage.
Tight security measures were implemented in various places, starting from the Pope’s arrival before sunset on January 15 up to his departure on the morning of January 19 at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City; at the Apostolic Nunciature, his official residence; in and around Malacañang, Manila Cathedral, Mall of Asia, University of Santo Tomas and Rizal Park, as well as in Tacloban Airport and Palo Cathedral in Leyte province. The PNP implemented strategies in routine security, venue security, and crowd control management. The implementation of other security components per event greatly enhanced the operational and tactical efficiency of the police force on the ground.
Prior to his departure, the Pope met and thanked government, military and police officials at the Apostolic Nunciature on the success of his visit. The national government and other key officials and personalities saluted the PNP for a job well done and for displaying dedication, hard work, patience and determination in making the Papal visit a tremendous success with ‘zero untoward incident’ recorded. Securing His Holiness Pope Francis and the 10,000 APEC delegates