Philippines Government Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras issued a statement saying that the five-day visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines will not “significantly hamper continuous efforts for the efficient operations of the port of Manila.”
Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) says that the country's major seaports, except the Manila South Harbor, will remain open during Pope Francis' visit to the country from January 15 to 19. PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana said it is “business as usual” for the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), North Port, Harbour Centre Port Terminals Inc., and the Tacloban baseport.
The clarifications come after reports in the local media that the Manila Port will be closed prompting PPA to suspend operations.
However, PPA said in a statement it had advised stakeholders to take additional measures to reduce the commercial impact of the slowdown in operations to give way to the security measures being put in place for the Pope’s safety.
“It will be business as usual for Philippine ports during the Papal visit but on a calibrated procedure as we need to align our operations to the security measures being implemented,” Sta. Ana said.
“While it is expected to crowd our ports, particularly all the Manila ports and the Tacloban baseport, during those days, we have to strike a balance between the Pope’s safety and the uninterrupted flow to travel and trade to and from the country,” he added.
Pope Francis will arrive in Manila in the evening of Jan. 15. He will spend the day in the city before heading for Tacloban, the city devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, then return to Manila for the main mass that is expected to attract up to 6 million people.
The Manila South Harbor of Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), on the other hand, will be closed because of its proximity to Manila Cathedral and the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, which Pope Francis is expected to visit.
“Manila South Harbor will be closed for the full 5 days due to its close proximity to the Manila Cathedral, and the Luneta Grandstand where the highlight of the Pope’s visit will be held,” Sta. Ana said.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has confirmed that there is no such thing as a total truck ban during the five-day holiday. The Palace official also said that trucks will be allowed in the regular truck routes during the allowed hours, except routes that will be affected by the activities during the Pope’s visit.