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AFP, PNP to secure Feast of Nazarene

By Mario J. Mallari and Pat C. Santos

While dismissing any specific threat against next week’s feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila, authorities are not taking any chances as they prepare to secure the event traditionally joined by millions of devotees.
Both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are now mapping out security preparations for the actual traslacion on January 9.
The PNP’s National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the AFP-Joint Task Force NCR are taking the lead in securing the event.
Even as a support unit, Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander of JTF-NCR, said the command is not taking any chances.
Arrojado, however, dismissed any specific threat against the feast.
“As I assumed, I have studied updates and situations. We always consider the possibility of terrorism but it is not as verified,” said Arrojado who assumed his post only yesterday.
“We have a lone wolf, like that. So we are preparing for contingencies in whatever we can address,” he added.
Church officials were expecting about 18.9 million devotees to join the 10-day feast activities for the Black Nazarene which will culminate through the traslacion which traditionally is joined by more than 1 million devotees.
Arrojado said the Joint Task Force NCR will deploy more than 500 soldiers for the activities in support of NCRPO.
“We see to it that we are on alert…it is the call of the National Capital Region Police Office, (but) we will be in support of the Philippine National Police,” he said.
According to Arrojado, as early as last month the military was already making its early preparations for the Feast of the Black Nazarene in coordination with the PNP.
“Since last month, we have been coordinating with the Diocese of Metro Manila. They have a request for additional forces, additional troops to augment the Philippine National Police,” Arrojado said.
Arrojado added the military will provide support to the Roman Catholic Church for both of its “routine” and “major” activities relating to the Feast of the Black Nazarane.
Among the highlights of the feast are the January 7 procession of replicas of the Black Nazarene. The following day, the traditional pahalik will start at the Quirino Grandstand.
Meanwhile, barely five days before the big Quiapo procession in celebration of the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, the Manila Police District, Local Government of Manila, church leaders and other national government agencies and other volunteer private groups have finalized their plans in the preparations for the so- called “Catholic Mecca” that is expected to be participated in by millions of devotees.
According to Msgr. Hernando Coronel, overall head of the traslacion 2018, the said event preparation for the said event is at 100 percent.
Msgr. Coronel explained they had been continuously reviewing some important details of the traslacion such as procession route, security and other activities for the event.
It was learned that flying drone machines will be prohibited as well as carrying of black plastic bags, signal jammer will be put in place sending message through cellular phones is impossible.
Officials of the MPD had finished inspecting the route of the procession where 5,000-strong police force will be fielded.
Continued clearing operation of the roads where procession will pass has been undertaken by the Department of Public Services of Manila since January 3 which includes the surroundings of the church to ensure free obstruction.
Concrete roads and sidewalks will be cleaned to protect barefoot devotees from any injuries.
Ambulances, medical personnel, rescuers, firemen and six city-owned hospitals will also be part of the said preparations.

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