Law enforcers on full alert for Fiesta Señor, Sinulog

LAW enforcement agencies in Cebu have been placed on full alert status starting Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, as activities for this year’s Fiesta Señor and the Sinulog Festival are set to begin on Thursday, Jan. 5.

Police Regional Office-Central Visayas (PRO 7) Director Brig. Gen. Jerry Bearis said around 2,600 personnel from the Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO), as well as other government agencies have been readied to implement security for the religious and cultural activities.

The security personnel were sent off to their respective assignments Wednesday in a ceremony held at the Cebu City Sports Center.

The personnel include the 600 officers deployed by the Cebu Police Provincial Office (CPPO), almost 1,000 from Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) and others from the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 7 and national support units.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Visayas Command also provided an augmentation force from Task Force Cebu, Bohol, Negros and Siquijor.

Bearis said that based on reports during their meeting with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica), they have not received any security threat.

He stressed, though, that they have not let their guard down.

Signal shutdown, gun ban

He also said they are still waiting for the National Telecommunication Commission’s approval on their request for a signal shutdown on Sinulog Day.

The police are also awaiting approval from Camp Crame on their request to suspend the permit to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR).

“We are waiting for the approval of the NTC. It will be pushed through and we have already requested the suspension of the PTCFOR. Just last week, I was with the chief PNP (Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr.) and SILG (Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr.) and I had already informed them that we are requesting for the suspension of the PTCFOR,” Bearis said.

He said he expects this year’s Sinulog Festival to be witnessed by thousands of people, considering that this is the first time for the City to hold it offline since the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic broke out.

Skeleton deployment

Col. Ireneo Dalogdog, chief of CCPO, said there will be “skeleton deployment” of personnel at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, where several religious activities will be held.

He added that they will deploy thousands of police officers two hours before the Walk with Jesus on Jan. 5.

He added that there will be personnel manning the route of the Sinulog Grand Parade on Jan. 15.

These personnel will be deployed along with members of the Quick Response Team from the CCDRRMO, Bureau of Fire Protection, and from the PCG’s Search, Rescue and Retrieval Team.

For his part, CCDRMO Chief Harold Alcontin said they have more than 200 personnel who will be deployed to the Sinulog Grand Parade route on Jan. 15.

They will also deploy 12 ambulances, he added.

He said he will also activate the Incident Command Post and Multi-Agency Coordinating Center.

Alcontin said they have also coordinated with the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay for personnel and ambulance unit augmentation.

Alcontin also thanked the Metropolitan Cebu Water District, which promised to install drinking stations in the Sinulog route.

Backpacks not allowed

He urged the public not to bring backpacks on Sinulog day.

“We discouraged the bringing of backpacks, but if the public wants to bring a backpack, it should be transparent so the police can easily check what’s inside since there will be a random check,” Alcontin said in Cebuano.

He added that they have also prepared for a possible stampede, thus they have prohibited the installation of steel railings on the side of the roads during the grand parade.

Instead of steel railings, they will instead put plastic barriers. (AYB / LMY)