Tacloban population to ‘double’ during Pope visit
MANILA, Philippines – The population of Tacloban City is expected to double in the days leading to Pope Francis’ scheduled visit, a local government official told Rappler.
Tacloban Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin said they expect the city’s population to blow up to over half a million by the time the Pope arrives on Saturday, January 17. Tacloban City, the capital of Leyte province, has a population of around 250,000, Yaokasin said.
“No bigger event has ever happened in the city of Tacloban,” Yaokasin told Rappler in a Friday, January 9, phone interview.
While there, the Pope will celebrate Mass at the Tacloban airport, after which he will have lunch and mingle with priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, and Yolanda survivors in Palo, Leyte.
The vice mayor said Catholics from near and even far provinces – those in the Visayas and Mindanao, and even some from Luzon – are expected to troop to the province in hopes of catching a glimpse of the popular Pope.
Yaokasin said preparations for the Pope’s visit are doing well so far – roads have been widened and bridges, reinforced. Still, Yaokasin admitted the city government’s biggest worry is still the safety of the Pope.
Class, work suspended
To “ensure public order, safety and convenience,” the city is suspending classes and work in government offices in the days leading up to arrival of Pope Francis.
Classes in all levels, both public and private, will be suspended from January 14 and 16, while work in all government offices will be suspended from January 15 to 16.
Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez signed the executive order for the suspension of work and classes on January 7, but the move was made public through Yaokasin’s Facebook page.
According to the order, both the Tacloban City Local School Board and the City’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) had recommended the suspension of classes and work. Private officers and businesses, however, are not covered by the order.
The expected population boom in Tacloban, said Yaokasin, also means some of the city’s schools will be used to house pilgrims for the Pope’s visit.
City government employees involved in the maintenance of peace and order, disaster risk management, health and sanitation, and traffic management are exceptions to the work suspension.
Romualdez also ordered the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to be on full alert for the visit. – Rappler.com