A ‘brown carpet’ welcome at IEC
Monsoon rains bring challenges for congress organizers, participants
The heavy monsoon rains made wet shoes, slippery staircases and “carpets” of flattened carton boxes a common sight yesterday morning at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC).
The delegates began arriving at the IEC grounds at around 8 a.m. yesterday, while the rain continued to pour.
“The rain was one of the expected things to happen, and it was a challenge, but it did not stop delegates from arriving on time and celebrating the morning sessions with us,” said Msgr. Joseph Tan, IEC media liaison.
This was the least of the IEC organizing committee’s problems.
A leak in the ceiling of the Eucharistic Pavilion’s East Wing created puddles of water on the ground floor.
Chief Insp. Aileen Recla, IEC Pavilion supervisor from the Cebu City Police Office, said the leak was quickly sealed before the delegates arrived.
“Kung nikusog pa to ang uwan, di ra siguro tu puddles ang naa kung dili mag banaw gyud siguro (Had the rain gotten stronger, it wouldn’t have just been puddles, but there would have been flooding),” Recla said.
IEC venue chief Fr. Brian Brigoli assured that the Pavilion is proofed from any further damage.
The food stations outside the pavilion, however, had to be moved to the spacious basement.
“The area became too muddy for the delegates. There was no way to pick food up from outdoor stations without shoes getting wet and covered in mud and dirt,” said Ernesto Ben Chua, head of the IEC Food Commission.
The rains could also hamper security preparations, said Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, security head for Task Group Site for IEC.
He was worried that police officers would leave their posts whenever it rains. To avoid this, he said all officers have been ordered to bring the raincoats issued to them.
“So far, we have not received reports of delegates or police officers contracting colds or fever because of the rains,” Lawas said.
At the IEC Pavilion, the rain also proved a challenge for gate security as the x-ray machines could not be used and had to be covered or they might end up getting soaked in the rain.
Police officers had to manually check the bags of every delegate coming through instead. They also used handheld metal detectors.
Chief Insp. Recla said the x-ray machines were not damaged and were fully operational once tents were installed in the gates.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mel Sarmiento, who visited the IEC grounds yesterday to check on emergency and security measures, found everything in order despite the rains.
“Everything is in place naman, and for any emergency, the venue is ready for mass evacuations so okay naman,” Sarmiento said.
Before going to the Pavilion, Sarmiento inspected Mandani Bay in Mandaue City, venue for the Youth Day tomorrow. A total of 200 police personnel will be deployed in the area.
Fr. Brigoli said the rains are a cause for concern for the outdoor events. He advised the public to bring umbrellas and extra shirts.
“We are taking more precautions now, especially sa atong mga outside events where we have lesser control for emergencies that might occur,” Brigoli told Cebu Daily News.
He said that though the volunteers in the event venues are more than prepared, it is better to remain cautious, especially at the open mass which is the Statio Orbis this Sunday at the South Road Properties (SRP).
The Mass will take place in a 20-hectare lot by the Pedro Calungsod Chapel beside SM Seaside. Brigoli said there will be allocated areas for the delegates, V.I.P.s and the public.
Elias Fernandez, assistant director of DILG-7, said security and police personnel have done numerous simulations for any situation that may arise and have assessed the sites beforehand.
“In all venues, the security components are already in place. We have designated teams and we already have staging areas, whether for stampede, earthquake, fire, we will always be ready to help,” Fernandez said.
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