Around 16,000 personnel will be joining forces to pave way for a safe and solemn procession of the Black Nazarene on January 9, Thursday.
The joint task force is composed of personnel from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Coast Guard, and volunteers.
During Monday’s media briefing at the Pope Benedict building in Quiapo, Manila, NCRPO chief, Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, said the police force will cover the procession from the front and sides to prevent intrusion while leaving the back open for devotees.
This way, the procession will not be interrupted and fewer injuries are anticipated, he said in Filipino.
“I cannot guarantee that the police line will not be penetrated because people will really try to, but we will [also] do our best to hold the line,” Sinas added.
The military will also be deploying a thousand of its men, for the first time, to keep an eye on the Ayala Bridge, the only bridge that the procession will pass through this year.
“Sinas gave us the toughest task but we are confident to perform our part, it is very special to me as well because my mother is from Quiapo, and my brother used to join the procession,” said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force-NCR commander, Brig. Gen. Alex DC Luna, in an interview.
Sinas admitted that it was his idea to put barbed wires on the steel posts and trusses of Ayala Bridge to discourage people from flocking and climbing the structure.
“The wires will be put all over the head, kung hindi mo sasadyain, hindi ka masasaktan (if you do not intend to disobey, you will not be hurt). These are just for preventive measures,” he said.
The authorities also made it clear that they will be checking the CCTVs installed in the bridge and violators will be arrested.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, for his part, called on the public to maintain a solemn atmosphere during the event.
“[I’m] calling the public across all sectors to cooperate and participate with the guidelines,” he said.
The mayor also announced that no type of obstructions will be allowed and any items, vehicles left along the way will be “considered as donations to the city”.
The Traslacion 2020 commemorates the arrival of the image of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo Church, or Saint John the Baptist Parish in 1767. Every year, devotees of the Black Nazarene come in millions to attend the procession.
Hijos del Nazareno-Anpon Headlay Albert Canete said it is their “panata” (vow) to join and help with the procession. He also cited miraculous events and wishes granted for people who join the sacred event. (PNA)