3,500 police, soldiers ready for deployment for Black Nazarene feast
At least 3,500 soldiers and policemen will be deployed in time for the Feast of the Black Nazarene procession on Wednesday.
In an phone interview with GMA News Online on Monday, Manila Police District Deputy Director for Operations Senior Superintendent Ronald Estilles said 1,500 reservists from the Armed Forces will be on standby.
"Together with the City Hall of Manila, Department of Health, National Red Cross, Office of the Civil Defense, Philippine Coast Guard, Metro Manila Development Authority, Bureau of Fire Protection, Armed Forces of the Philippines...ready na kami," Estilles said.
Millions of devotees are expected to flock to Manila's Quiapo district to take part in the feast, whose activities include Masses at Quiapo Church and a procession around the district.
This year's procession route may be viewed here.
Last year's feast set a record as having the longest procession: more than 22 hours. Authorities claiming a possible terrorist attack also jammed mobile phone communications in the area last year.
Estilles, however, said they will not be jamming mobile communications on Wednesday.
He explained that they have already conducted drills with volunteers on how to control Wednesday's events.
He said civilians will not be allowed to carry guns and firecrackers during the procession while the vendors will not be allowed in Luneta starting Tuesday.
"Yung vendors bawal sa Luneta during January 9, yung vendors di pwede s kalsada [pero] January 8 palang wala nang vendor," he said.
Estilles also said they are discouraging children, pregnant women, handicapped, and senior citizens from joining the procession.
But just in case anything goes wrong, he said that six government hospitals have already been told to get ready.
The Quiapo Church had also said it has conducted a contingency planning workshop with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Some Manila schools, meanwhile, have suspended their classes in anticipation of the Black Nazarene activities on Wednesday. — RSJ, GMA News