17-K strong inter-agency task force to ensure security, safety of devotees at ‘Traslacion’

Published January 6, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Joseph Almer Pedrajas

At least 17,000 personnel from an inter-agency task force who will be deployed for the “Traslacion” religious festival on Jan. 9 have vowed to strictly implement the event guidelines to ensure safety, cleanliness, and orderliness during the procession.

Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas (NCRPO PIO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas

National Capital Region Police (NCRPO) chief Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas announced in a press conference at Quiapo Church on Monday that 13,572 police personnel will man the route of the procession, which will start at Quirino Grandstand around 5:30 a.m.

Of the number, 2,144, including officers from the special action force (SAF) unit, will be positioned at the front and flanks of the “andas” or carriage of the Black Nazarene to form an “andas wall.”

The “wall” is to prevent devotees from climbing up the front and sides of the carriage and causing inordinate delay to the procession. Devotees will, however, be allowed to touch the carriage from the back.

In addition, some 3,000 members of the military, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will work together to ensure the safety and security of the devotees.

Meanwhile, from Jan. 7 to 9, at least 1,000 Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) personnel will be tasked to maintain the cleanliness of the route.

“On those days, we will implement a ‘no absent, no day off’ policy for our personnel. They will be on standby. Once the procession passes [their area], they will immediately clean the area as we don’t want the garbage to pile up,” MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago said.

Pialago also said they will prepare four ambulances and various emergency vehicles to complement the 20 medical teams of the Department of Health (DOH) to provide medical and emergency assistance to devotees.

On Jan. 8, the MMDA and the local government of Manila will not also allow vehicles, including that of media, along the route of the procession. Vehicles caught parking on prohibited roads will be towed, both Pialago and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso warned.

“All those vehicles found within the area will be considered as donations. We will implement towing,” Moreno said.

The city mayor added that “vendors and all kinds of obstructions will not also be allowed,” saying the local government has already started prohibiting vendors from selling in various areas of the city including Quiapo.

Sinas said to prevent devotees from climbing elevated areas and jumping into the crowd, the beams of Ayala Bridge will be covered with barbed wire, while overpasses will be cordoned off by police.

Meanwhile, for those who try to break the “andas wall,” Sinas warned that the police will “get them off. We will try our best not to break the “andas wall.””

Sinas also said people who violate the guidelines set by authorities might be collared and detained in the mobile jails.

According to representatives of the inter-agency task force composed of Quiapo Church, NCRPO, military, BJMP, BFP, MMDA, DOH, and DPWH, among others, the guidelines will be strictly implemented to ensure a safe, orderly, and solemn “Traslacion.”

“What we’re expecting is for the “Traslacion” to become peaceful. It’s not about the length of the procession, but about how it will become orderly and organized,” Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of Quiapo, said in a recent interview.

Sinas assured the public that intelligence officers have not received any imminent threats, although several suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), who yielded several firearms and materials for explosive devices, were nabbed by police in Manila on Sunday.

“It is still under investigation,” Sinas said.