(GMA News) The Philippines has assigned a thousand-strong force of its United Nations peacekeepers to help guard Pope Francis when he visits Asia’s main Catholic outpost next January, the military said Sunday.
The papal security force will include more than 300 soldiers who were withdrawn from the UN-administered Golan Heights buffer zone after the unit fought off an attack by Syrian rebels last month.
“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,” said a statement quoting Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang.
A Filipino battalion comprises about 500 soldiers. Two battalions of Filipino UN peacekeepers, including those withdrawn from the Golan Heights as well as those who had been training to replace them, will join a police-led security detail for the pope, he added. [More]