CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff has ordered two battalion-sized units to augment the security of Pope Francis in the Philippines early next year. General Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr has tasked the 7th and 8th Philippine Contingent to the Golan Heights of the AFP’s Peacekeeping Operations Center to form part of the security for the Pope during his papal visit.
Currently, the Philippines has suspended deployment to peacekeeping operations in Golan Heights, Syria. The recently returned peacekeepers from the previous mission to Golan Heights, as well as the unit that is set to replace them, are on standby status. In the meantime, the AFP is committing these two battalions to support the Philippine National Police in securing the papal visit.
These units will be put under the operational control of the PNP who is in charge of the overall security for the pontiff’s four-day visit to the country. The peacekeepers’ experience beyond Philippine borders may serve them well as many people from all walks of life are expected to come to the Philippines to see the Pope. We believe that their exposure and experience in peacekeeping operations in Syria will be beneficial towards the successful security of Pope Francis’s papal visit to the Philippines.