Manila Mayor Joseph Erap Estrada on Saturday downplayed apprehensions that terrorist elements would disrupt the Black Nazarene procession on Monday, describing the possibility of such attacks as very minimal.
Estrada said this as the Manila Police District (MPD) again reminded millions of devotees of the Black Nazarene not to bring backpacks during the procession to avoid being confronted by security officers.
Our security organizations have not detected any terror threat related to Traslacion. The possibility of such terror attack is very minimal, Estrada said after being briefed by MPD director Chief Supt. Joel Coronel.
Coronel is the overall commander of the 6,000-strong combined police, military, and civilian security force that will be deployed during the procession.
They will be backed up by force multipliers composed of barangay officials, paramedics, firefighters, traffic aides, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and members of communication groups.
Reiterating that no security threats have so far been monitored by the intelligence community, Coronel advised the public to calm down and not entertain any talks of terrorist activity.
Of course, we all agree that the threat exists regarding the possibility of a terror attack in any situation, including the Traslacion of the Black Nazarene, the MPD chief said.
But is there a strong possibility or likelihood that such attacks will happen? Based on the assessment of our intelligence community ay very minimal naman po, Coronel said.
If the threat was high, he said security officials would definitely recommend the postponement of Monday's Traslacion. In fact, that was one of the key points which led to the decision for authorities to push through with the Traslacion.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-Joint Task Force NCR chief Col. Llewelyn Binasoy confirmed that they have not detected any security threat as of Wednesday but signal jammers along the procession route will be installed as part of the security measure.
On the other hand, Coronel also called on the devotees attending the procession not to bring backpacks because they would be accosted by security officers; such prohibition was being implemented during huge events for fears such backpacks might contain explosive materials and other dangerous contraband.
Please avoid bringing backpacks. All you need is a hand towel or handkerchief, and plastic water bottle, Coronel said.
For those who need to bring bags, he said they may deposit or leave it at the 10 command posts located in strategic points.
"Anybody with a backpack won't be able to make it to Andas and that means they will never make it to the procession area, Coronel further warned.
Moreover, Coronel also appealed for public cooperation to ensure a smooth and safe observance of the religious activity.
If you notice suspicious-looking persons or situations, please report it to any security personnel for search and inspection," he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency