SOME roads surrounding the Basilica del Sto. Niño will be closed to vehicular traffic on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 for the launching of the quincentennial celebration of the arrival of the image of the Sto. Niño in Cebu.
Police estimate that 6,000 devotees will join the activity in Cebu City.
At 6 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) will be on full alert status. It will deploy around 500 police officers at the Basilica and in the areas near it.
On the same day in Lapu-Lapu City, around 300 personnel from the police, Central Command (Centcom), Philippine Air Force and other volunteer groups will secure the seaborne procession.
The activity signals the start of the activities for the fiesta of the city’s patronness, the Virgin of the Rule, on Thursday, Nov. 21.
The security forces will be deployed in the church’s vicinity at 3 a.m., according to Lapu-Lapu City Police Office chief P/Col. Clarito Baja.
In Cebu City, the CCPO personnel will receive an additional force from its mother unit, the Police Regional Office 7, Centcom and other auxiliary groups.
CCPO officer-in-charge P/Col. Giovanie Maines said no vehicles will be allowed to pass by Osmeña Blvd. and the corners of D. Jakosalem and P. Burgos streets. The road closures, he said, would allow the devotees to walk during the launch without fear of being hit by cars.
Even though the CCPO’s intelligence unit has not intercepted any threat on the religious activity, Maines said the CCPO will implement strict security measures inside and outside the Basilica.
Devotees are not allowed to wear hats and bring backpacks inside the Basilica, Maines added.
The CCPO will also coordinate with the Muslim community, which has been consistent in helping the police secure the events of the Roman Catholic Church in Cebu.
Last Monday, Nov. 11, the CCPO held simulation exercises to test its personnel’s capability in responding to a bomb threat at the Basilica.
In Lapu-Lapu City, Baja said his personnel will secure the roads leading to Barangay Marigondon where a mass will be held at 5 a.m.
A motorcade will transport the image of the Virgin of the Rule from the Our Lady of the Rule Church in the city’s center to the Our Lady of Sacred Heart Parish in Marigondon.
After the mass, the image will be brought to Pacific Cebu Resort in Barangay Subabasbas. Then the seaborne procession will commence.
The seaborne procession of the Virgin of the Rule’s image will pass by the coastal barangays of Maribago, Mactan and Punta Engaño.
The fleet of the faithful’s boats will end the procession at Muelle Osmeña, which is near the Our Lady of the Rule Church. Just like the CCPO, Baja said his office had not received any threat on the seaborne procession.
The police official urged the devotees not to wear jewelry, or bring a lot of cash and other expensive things when they hear mass at the Our Lady of the Rule.
He said the police will be strict in implementing their security plans for the fiesta. AYB, GCM / KAL