Philippine police arrest 3 for bomb joke during papal mass
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine police arrested 3 people for cracking jokes about a bomb while on their way to attend Pope Francis's mass in Manila, an official said Tuesday, January 20.
The man and two women were arrested at a police checkpoint on Sunday, January 18, while heading to the mass in Rizal Park which attracted a record 6 million people, said officer Alberto de Guzman of Manila police radio control office.
Witnesses heard one of the 3 saying as they went through the checkpoint, "Hey, I've got a bomb. Why didn't you detect it?" De Guzman said.
His companions then joked about carrying guns, De Guzman said.
"They were making fun of the police officers. If people had heard them, it could have caused a stampede," he told Agence France-Presse.
The 3 are being held under a law that penalizes "pranksters" who make false reports about bombs. The crime is punishable with up to 5 years in jail or a fine of P40,000 ($894) or both.
Security was tight during the 5-day visit of Pope Francis to the devoutly Catholic Philippines, with police and soldiers on alert to control the massive crowds.
The pope returned to the Vatican on Monday, January 19, with his trip hailed as a huge success. – Rappler.com