Considered as the most celebrated religious activity that gather millions of devotees in the Philippines, The Feast of Black Nazarene in January 9, 2019 is being anticipated by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), The Manila Police District (MPD) and Department of Health (DOH) with tight security measures to ensure a smooth “Traslacion” this year.
The class and work suspension in the city government except certain offices had already been ordered by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada through Executive Order No. 1 series of 2019 signed on Thursday last January 3.
According to the Manila City Administrator Ericson Alcovandaez, though work in the Manila City government is suspended, offices which are directly involved in the preparation for the pilgrimage of the Black Nazarene are not included.
He said that the suspension of certain government agencies and offices, and even of the private sector, “…is left to the discretion of the head of the agency and the management.”
NCRPO already prepared 7,200 strong police force tasked to ensure the safety of the devotees for the procession, and had already coordinated with other agencies.
NCRPO Director Guillermo Eleazar assured the presence of the police, the military, government officials and other concerned agencies which all had coordinated for the Nazareno event. The director had said he inspected himself the 10 segments of the 6.1 km-route of the procession last Saturday, checking if all police commanders are fully prepared.
“We asked them if their policemen are all ready, how many barangays are under their jurisdiction, the number of their people they are going to secure, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, and the things that should not be brought and done,” Eleazar said. The items banned in the procession are liquor beginning January 8; firecrackers, guns and/or deadly weapons in January 8; while backpacks, colored canister and water jugs may not be directly ban, the NCRPO had already discouraged the public bringing these said items.
The zero vendor-policy has been implemented along the processional routes since Monday.
Aside from the ground inspection, the director also conducted an aerial inspection of the areas of Traslacion along with top ranked officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, aboard in a military helicopter.
Around 2,000 soldiers from the Joint Task Force NCR has joined the security team.
Re-Routes and Closures
MPD had provided the traffic advisory closing Katigbak Drive, South Drive and Independence Road beginning 5:00 AM on January 8.
Vehicles coming from Bonifacio Drive and P. Burgos are advised to go straight to Roxas Boulevard as point of destination.
While if the vehicle is coming from Roxas Boulevard and/or TM Kalaw, must go straight to Roxas Boulevard as point of destination.
Vehicles going to Manila Hotel and/or H2O Hotel shall have one lane access at Katigbak Drive.
The following roads are closed on the day of the Black Nazarene celebration, the “Traslacion” beginning at 12 a.m., which is the start of the fiesta mass:
-Stretch of Mc Arthur, Jones and Quezon Bridge
-Roxas Boulevard from Katigbak Drive to TM Kalaw St.
-Both lanes of Quezon Blvd. (Quiapo) will be closed to traffic, from A. Mendoza or Fugoso St. and España Ave or P. Campa St. for southbound and from Taft Avenue/Ayala Blvd for northbound.
Motorists are urged to take the following alternate routes:
If coming from Quezon City, use the stretch of España Avenue, then turn right to P. Campa St., make a left turn to A. Mendoza St., then turn right to Fugoso St., make another right to CM Recto Avenue or left to Nicanor Reyes St., turn right to CM Recto Avenue to the point of destination.
If coming from Legarda St., motorists shall turn right to CM Recto Avenue or turn left to Mendiola St. to point of destination.
If coming from Caloocan City using the Rizal Avenue, make a right turn to Fugoso St. or CM Recto Avenue, to the point of destination.
If using heavy vehicles such as cargo trucks, drivers shall take Pres. Osmeña, then Pres. Quirino Avenue, Nagtahan via AH Lacson Avenue to Capulong St.
Drivers of light vehicles intending to use the stretch of Bonifacio Drive and Roxas Blvd southbound shall turn around at Anda Circle going to Delpan or Moriones to the point of destination.
If coming from Reina Regente St. using the southbound lane, turn right to San Fernando St. or make a u-turn at Plaza Ruiz to the point of destination.
All bus drivers using Taft Avenue northbound shall turn right to Ayala Ave to point of destination.
This year’s route of the Traslacion is the same as last year’s. The expected five million devotees will walk 6.1 kilometers from the Quirino Grandstand to the Quiapo Church, with an estimated completion of the procession for more than 20 hours.
DOH: Ready to Respond
DOH said that they are prepared to respond to any untoward incident during the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
The DOH-National Capital Region said it already alerted different hospitals in Manila for possible emergency cases.
“We have, on standby, our medical teams in different DOH hospitals,” said DOH-NCR Epidemiology and Health Emergency Cluster head Dr. Patrick Co.
He added that they will be also deploying 14 emergency health teams in different parts of the procession route.
“If there is anyone in need of medical attention, our responders will be ready to provide onsite treatment,” he said.
Previously, some devotees sustained minor medical cases such as dizziness, lacerations, abrasions, high blood pressure, and sprain; and cases like fainting, difficulty in breathing, fractures, and seizures. In 2015, two were reported dead; also the same count in 2016. Last year, no death was reported but hundreds of casualties had been rushed to emergency outlets and hospitals.
Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler