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Authorities prepare for Feast of Black Nazarene.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) are deep in preparations for the Feast of the Black Nazarene, which is again expected to attract millions of devotees to the Quiapo area on January 9.

The MMDA said some 1,300 traffic personnel will be deployed starting January 5 to the Quiapo area to man traffic within the vicinity of the Quiapo Church and the route of the procession.

The deployment of the agency's traffic enforcers will augment the existing number of enforcers from the PNP and the city government of Manila to ensure a peaceful and orderly celebration of the event.

Majority of the traffic enforcers will be manning the roads leading to the Quiapo Church to ensure the safety of millions of devotees expected to join the annual festivities.

The traffic enforcers will supervise vehicular and pedestrian traffic to avoid accidents or any untoward incident, particularly along the route of the procession.

On Tuesday Bong Nebrija, supervising operations officer of the MMDA, said the MMDA will start clearing operations along the procession routes.

Among those that will be cleared are illegally parked vehicles, vendors and those objects that will obstruct and hamper the procession.

Besides deploying traffic personnel, Nebrija said they will also focus on road sidewalk clearing.

'We will take the role if there are obstructionsthe agency had been a partner in ensuring that the procession of Black Nazarene will be orderly,' he said.

The agency will put up its emergency-response tent at the Quirino Grandstand for the 'Pahalik.' Plastic barriers for the queue to the traditional Pahalik will also be set up. Ambulances and other road-emergency vehicles, traffic mobile patrol cars, tugboats, mobile surveillance and communications units, and all other necessary equipment and vehicles, will also be dispatched.

'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,' said Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Force NCR.

Arrojado said 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.

While there had be no threats identified yet, Arrojado said they are not taking chances, especially for the Traslacion, the yearly traditional 'voyage' of the image of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino grandstand to the church in Quipo.

'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 on Wednesday. '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 they also said would be joined by more than a million Catholics. Arrojado said the Joint Task Force NCR will deploy more than 500 soldiers for the activities.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 3, 2018
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