GREEN FM ON THE SCENE: Villamor air base access restricted to select media

By Jasmine Gonzales, Green FM field reporter and news manager

As His Holiness, Pope Francis, arrived in the Philippines, Papal Visit PH accredited media personnel flocked inside Gate 1 of Villamor Air Base.

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Most of the media arrived early as they were expected to ingress between 10am to 12:30pm. While the majority of the media were allowed inside, some were declined.

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A number of media bearing Papal Visit PH identification badges were blocked upon entering the media screening area because their names and the names of their organizations were not found on the official media list provided by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Some were clearly disappointed while most reacted with shock at being denied entry despite their accreditation.

These media spent two hours negotiating for their pass while the CBCP’s technical team tried to fix the mix-up.

According to the CBCP authorities, the reason behind the confusion is because the proportions of the area designated for the media can only offer limited slots. The CBCP said they had to minimize the group and prioritize only the Vatican Accredited Media personnel as well as the major networks and different church organizations.

Confusion also arose during the distribution of the media IDs done by CBCP volunteers earlier this week. They failed to advise the Level 3 accredited media about their assigned coverage places where they can freely enter as part of the official media pool. This led to the misconception of some media men that the IDs given to them were all-access passes starting from the Pope’s arrival up until his departure.

Villamor Air Base security was so tight for the Pope’s arrival that even taking pictures was disallowed. In the end, the other media personnel were advised to leave the air base and just wait for the Pope on his travel route to the Apostolic Nunciature as an alternative coverage.

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