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When You Gotta Go: Manila Police Asked To Use Diapers During Pope's Visit

MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) traffic enforcers patrol a street on their Segway vehicles in a 2011 photo. During a visit by Pope Francis next week, they are being asked to wear adult diapers so they won't have to leave their posts.
Bullit Marquez

Some 2,000 traffic cops in the Philippine capital are being asked to wear adult diapers during next week's visit by Pope Francis to the predominately Roman Catholic country.

So, some of them will no doubt feel relieved that they've got a place to go during what promises to be a particularly long and grueling stint at their posts. Others might prefer to just hold it.

Either way, the army of traffic enforcers, as they are known in the Philippines, should probably go easy on the morning coffee during the pontiff's January 15-19 visit.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which oversees the traffic police in the capital, says it has asked its 2,000 employees to wear adult diapers so they won't have to leave their posts to answer the call of nature. The pope's visit is scheduled for January 15-19.

A "dry run" of sorts is being planned for Friday by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which overseas the force, when 800 cops work a 24-hour shift during the procession of the Black Nazarene. The annual event attracts hundreds of thousands of barefoot Filipino Catholics on pilgrimage to a centuries-old black statue of Jesus. Traffic, no doubt, will be a mess.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Emerson Carlos, the MMDA's assistant general manager for operations, said: "These diapers are actually being used regularly as standard operating gear for soldiers belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States Army to fight Talibans in Afghanistan since 2012. Even the Buckingham Palace guards."

No less than NASA astronauts had worn diapers "during all shuttle launches and in their reentry into earth atmosphere," the statement said.

Carlos, however, acknowledged that "[it] is understandable that the idea may seem ridiculous to a few or maybe a majority, at first glance."

His boss was quoted by The Guardian as saying that the whole thing makes perfect sense.

"If you attend an event that will last for 24 hours, you cannot go around looking for a [portable toilet]," Francis Tolentino said.

The newspaper said that when asked whether he himself would wear an adult diaper for the exercise, Tolentino replied: "I will try, but in my case, I have less hydration."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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