The Manila Police District (MPD) will launch an investigation on the Black Nazarene procession that drew hundreds of devotees in Quiapo, Manila on Monday over alleged physical distancing violations.
Brig. Gen. Rolando Miranda, MPD director said that Lt. Col. John Guiagui, Sampaloc Police Station commander, met with Quiapo Church officials to discuss the incident on Wednesday.
"As a matter of policy, here in MPD, we discourage gatherings and religious processions hanggang meron tayong pandemic (as long as we have a pandemic)," Miranda said.
The MPD chief said no formal request to hold the motorcade was submitted for his approval, and the religious gathering was "spontaneous."
According to Miranda, he deployed at least 10 police mobiles and members of the MPD-District Mobile Force Battalion in preparation for the procession.
"Alam mo naman ang mga deboto, 'di natin sila maawat, bigla maglalabasan, sasama pag makita ang Nazareno. Alam mo naman attraction ng tao sa Nazareno (You know devotees, we cannot stop them, they will suddenly come out and join the motorcade when they see the Black Nazarene. You know the people's attraction to the Black Nazarene)," he said.
"'Di natin mapagbabawalan ang deboto, kaya nga tinawag nating deboto, makukulit 'pag makita ang santo. Wala silang pakialam sa sakit, 'pag makita ang Nazareno, (pakiramdam nila) 'di sila tatablan ng COVID (We cannot stop the devotees, that is why they are called devotees, they are persistent when they see images of saints. They do not care about diseases, they feel like they will not get infected with COVID-19 when they see the Black Nazarene)," he added.
However, Miranda stressed that religious processions, as well as any kind of mass gathering, are still prohibited amid the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
"Lesson learned. Kahit anong (No matter what) religious denomination, we will not allow. This will be the last," he said.
The MPD chief said they still do not know if they will press charges against those involved in the procession and admitted that identifying and arresting them is like "looking for a needle in the haystack."
Miranda, who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is now in isolation, urged the public to comply with the government-issued health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.