The government will not advise the cancellation of the procession of the Black Nazarene despite intelligence reports that terrorists may target the traditional practice, according to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael Sueno on Thursday.
"I do not think that the government will advise for the cancellation of his traditional practice which has long been done since how many years ago," Sueno said during Palace media briefing.
Sueno, however, said the government law enforcement agencies, particularly Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), are now in "full alert" to secure millions of devotees during the procession on Monday.
"We have the PNP, the military, and the other armed groups in our government to really help maintain peace and order and keep our people safe because we there will be 3 million who will participate this very big event," Sueno said.
Sueno said they have been receiving intelligence reports that terrorist groups, particularly Maute Group, are in Metro Manila.
Sueno said other terrorist group like pro-ISIS Khalifa might retaliate the death of their leader "Commander Tokboy" who was killed in an encounter in Saranggani on Thursday morning.
"That's our problem. They might retaliate. That's why you have to double, triple our preparations in the security," Sueno said.
He said shutting down of the cellphone signals near the Quiapo area is one of the options to secure the Black Nazarene procession.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has declared January 9 special holiday in Manila in observance of the Black Nazarene feast.
When asked if he will encourage devotees not to attend the procession, Sueno said devotees won't listen to him due to their strong faith and devotion to Black Nazarene.
Source: Philippines News Agency