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Tight security for Eucharistic Congress

CEBU (UCAN): Organisers of the International Eucharistic Congress scheduled to begin on January 24 in Cebu, The Philippines, have assured delegates that security will be tight following the terror attacks in Jakarta that killed at least seven people on January 14.

“While we commiserate with the victims of the bombing, the incident provides even more impetus for us and our security agencies to be vigilant,” Bishop Dennis Villarojo, the secretary general of the organising committee, said.

The bishop said that he is expecting at least 15,000 visitors from 90 different countries to come to The Philippines for the congress and that both Church and government authorities are making the gathering as secure as possible.

Bishop Villarojo said the same security template that was used for last year’s visit by Pope Francis and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Manila in November will be used during the congress.

“Cebu is unlike Indonesia,” Bishop Villarojo said. “We have never had any such incidents in the past, due perhaps to the relative ease for the topography of Cebu to be secured.”

Bishop Villarojo said there have been no cancellations from overseas for the congress which will run until January 31.

Following the attack in Jakarta, the Philippine military announced that it has been placed on heightened alert.

“The military is now elevating its alert levels to ensure a state of readiness should there be a need for it in case of certain contingencies,” a military spokesperson and brigadier general, Restituto Padilla, said.

He explained that the country’s security agencies have not monitored any threat so far, but noted that proactive measures to prevent the spread of extremist activities have already been completed.

Police and military operations are ongoing in suspected hideouts used by Islamist groups in the southern part of the country.

Padilla also downplayed assessments made by security analysts that the so-called Islamic State may soon establish a wilayat or province in Mindanao.

“Our intensified operations will catch up with them whether or not they have pledged their allegiance to Daesh (Islamic State),” Padilla said.


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