The Armed Forces and National Police will place all units in the country under their highest alert statuses for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis, officials said Wednesday.

All military units will be placed under “red alert” on Saturday, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“Red alert means we should be 100 percent inside camps… We don’t want enemies of the state to take advantage of the situation,” the military chief said.

The police, on the other hand, will be placed under “full alert” starting Monday, National Police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said in an separate interview in Camp Crame.

As much as 37,000 police and military personnel will be deployed to secure Pope Francis’ visit from January 15 to 19, Catapang said.

“This time we are already conducting rehearsals, these are in actual venues, the timing, and the position of snipers,” he said.

About 100 snipers will be deployed to buildings along Manila’s Roxas Boulevard, Catapang said.

No threats to the Pope’s visit have so far been monitored, and the large deployment is aimed at securing the pontiff’s 44 different activities, he said.

The challenge, according to Catapang, is preventing a “people surge.”

“It’s the temperament of the crowd at that particular moment, baka biglang magkaroon ng people surge,” he said.

A stampede like what happened to the anniversary celebration of the defunct television game show “Wowowee” in 2006 is also possible during the Pope’s visit, Catapang said.

More than 70 people were killed in the stampede, which occurred at a sports center in Pasig City on February 4, 2006. (John Roson)

– end –