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Millions seen in ‘Traslacion’ amid threats

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Millions of devotees from all walks of life are expected to join the annual Black Nazarene procession today despite the terror threats that security officials have earlier confirmed.

The Philippine National Police has assured that security is in place for the expected millions of devotees who will jam the procession route.

“All the security measures are in place, we have been preparing for this. We can do this and we will pull through with this event,” said PNP chief Director General Ronald M. dela Rosa on the eve of the “Traslacion.”

The procession is set to start after the 6 a.m. Mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila and is estimated to reach the Quiapo Church also in Manila the next day.

Classes and government offices in Manila have been suspended to give way to the 410-year-old tradition.

More than 2,000 policemen have been deployed in and around the procession route. A “no-fly zone” will be implemented in the area.

The challenge, according to Dela Rosa, is how to keep safe such a large number of people in a very long time. Last year’s procession took 20 hours to finish.

While the PNP has yet to monitor a credible threat to the procession, the possibility of retaliatory attack from terror groups remains, according to Dela Rosa.

“We are not discouraging these people to go. We have to live our normal lives. Let us not be scared of these terrorists,” he said.

Dela Rosa urged the devotees to help maintain peace and order.

“Fifteen million is a very large number but if this 15 million will be vigilant, then this weakness will be turned into our strength against these terrorists,” he said.

Aside from setting up signal jammers to prevent triggering bombs via mobile phones, the PNP has requested the National Telecommunication Commission to shut down the signal in the area until the end of the procession.

“Actually we requested through the NTC for a shutdown of the entire signal area just to make sure,” said dela Rosa.

He urged devotees to leave their mobile phones at home and refrain from wearing caps and bringing backpacks or bags.

Transparent bags, however, will be allowed. (AARON B. RECUENCO)

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