The yearly ritual is a cultural milestone of the capital, as well as an annual challenge for security forces.
If you are one of the possibly 8-million who will be trooping to Quiapo on Monday, January 9, to pay your devotion to the circa-17th century likeness of Christ known as the Black Nazarene, you may pray assured that the Philippine National Police will be put on full alert to ensure public safety, and to guard against possible terrorist threats.
This year’s feast of the Black Nazarene has not been clouded by looming terrorist threats, but the Manila police keeps their preparations extensive as standard procedure, and in response to unsuccessful bombing incidents late last year, which are believed to be spillovers of terrorism from Mindanao.
“There’s no information, but the threat is there,” said Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde, director of the NCR Police Office in a briefing last Thursday. “The threat is always there.”
A temporary suspension of gun licenses will be imposed by the city government; the blocking of cellular signals is also being considered; and almost 6,000 law enforcement officers will be deployed to shepherd a crowd that is expected to exceed the previous year’s.
Your safety is as much a product of your actions as it is of the authorities’.
Make sure you take the following to account before you step out to proclaim your Christian devotion.
- If everyone in the household is a devotee, is your house properly secured? All electrical devices must be unplugged before you leave.
- Children, the elderly, the pregnant, and persons who are sick should avoid crowded places; best to keep them home. They can watch the house while the abled devotees are out.
- Carry identification, medical information, and emergency contact numbers with you.
- Wear comfortable clothing. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry, and bringing expensive or unnecessary electronic devices.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks.
- Bring candies, crackers and bottled water. Drink a lot of fluid to prevent heat exhaustion.
- If you are attending in a group, assign a designated meeting point in case someone gets lost and with agreed time to meet for accounting of group or family members. Take note, the cops might implement a cellular blackout.
- Know the location and means of access to police stations, medical stations, and other available authorities within the area.
You may download the printable safety tips here.