MANILAThe annual procession of the image of the Black Nazarene has reached Jones Bridge in Manila before noon on Wednesday, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said.
NCRPO chief, Director Guillermo Eleazar said as of 1 p.m. Wednesday, the andas (carriage) of the Black Nazarene is now at Arlegui St. with a total crowd of 335,000 devotees following the procession.
The crowd estimate in Quiapo Church is around 105,000 and the mass is ongoing.
Meanwhile, the situation in Quirino Grandstand is now back to normal as the vicinity of Manila Hotel along Roxas Boulevard is now passable to motorists.
The NCRPO said 211 persons have been given medical attention for minor injuries during the procession from Luneta up to C. Palanca Street from 12:01 a.m. to Wednesday noon.
Insp. Mardonio Abuda, Public Information Officer of Manila Police District (MPD) Station 3, advised devotees and parents not to bring their children and warned devotees not to bring their gadgets and just take enough money to avoid attracting pickpockets.
Abuda also asked for the cooperation of the public to help hasten the movement of the procession as its mammoth crowd will render all roads and peripheries along the 6.1-kilometer procession route from Luneta to Quiapo virtually inaccessible.
Sana po para mas maaga po makapasok sa (Quiapo Church). 'Yung mga nakakasagabal sa dadaaanan, sa mga devotees, makipag-cooperate po sila para dere-derecho ang procession ng andas (We hope that the Black Nazarene will be able to enter the Quiapo Church faster. Those who are blocking the roads, to our devotees, please cooperate so that the procession will move smoothly), Abuda said in a TV interview, adding that clearing operations against vendors near the Quiapo Church continues.
Fr. Danichi Hui, Quiapo Church parochial vicar, said the faster completion of the procession is credited to the new initiatives they introduced such as reciting of the Devotee's Pledge and the establishment of 14 prayer stations.
The pledge was introduced to calm down devotees and discourage them from rushing to the right side of the venue where the 'andas' or the carriage bearing the image of the Black Nazarene is situated.
During the Devotee's Pledge, devotees are asked to promise that they will abide by the rules and regulations of being a devotee, which is to help maintain calmness and avoid harming others during the procession.
The priest added that they expect the image to be inside the Quiapo Church in 21 hours and 30 minutes.
We expect it to be finished by 2:30 a.m. (Thursday). Technically it will be faster than others in the past, he said.
In 2018, the procession ended at 3 a.m., with a total of 22 hours travel time.
In an interview, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde said the occasion remains peaceful as of this time.
Sa ngayon, wala pa tayong natatanggap na complaint mula sa ating mga kababayan at wala din tayong natatanggap na security threats (For now, we have not received any complaints from the public and there are no security threats), Albayalde told reporters.
The PNP chief, however, asked for continuous understanding of the public after he asked telecommunication companies to turn off mobile signals in Manila as a security measure.
Over 7,000 police personnel were deployed in Manila to ensure the orderly conduct of the annual religious event. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency