THE Philippine National Police (PNP) apologized on Thursday, January 9, to some frustrated devotees who failed to practice their annual religious tradition during the procession of the Black Nazarene due some security adjustments implemented by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
“We understand how some devotees feel frustrated for not being able to show their devotion the way they traditionally used to do it due to tight security. But like any introduction of change, we can always expect a level of resistance. In order to manage expectations, this change in security measures was disseminated way ahead of time through the media and also during the planning and rehearsals,” PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac said.
“We appeal to all devotees to remain calm, continue to cooperate and not harm the police security detail. We only want the Translacion 2020 to be held successfully, safe and orderly, with no untoward incident for the benefit of all,” he added.
Banac however commended the policemen who endured and implement maximum tolerance amid the situation.
“The PNP leadership under OIC PLtGen Archie Francisco Gamboa notes the commendable restraint and sacrifice by NCRPO personnel under PBGen Debold Sinas in the way they handled the crowd and call upon them to maintain maximum tolerance and tight security posture until the Traslacion 2020 is over,” he said.
The procession, also called as “traslacion” of the Black Nazarene started moving from the Quirino Grandstand shortly after 4 a.m.
Unlike in the past years that the devotees were given the freedom to join the procession particularly where they tried to get near the image of the Black Nazarene, policemen initially barricaded several streets to prevent from doing so.
The policemen also formed an “andas wall” in front and on the side of the image carrier to prevent pandemonium.
Police officials earlier said the security adjustments were made following coordination with the event organizers hoping that the procession would end early as compared in the past years that it usually takes over 24 hours.
Majority of the devotees were dismayed of the security adjustments. Among their sentiments is that they were hit by the policemen as they refused to follow the new rules because of their desire to practice their tradition.
“Antagal-tagal na namin na deboto ngayon ayaw nila kaming palapitin. May kasamahan kami napalo pa ng tubo ‘yung iba naaapakan nung mga sapatos ng pulis,” a complaining devotee said in a television interview.
However, some expressed sympathy to the policemen saying that it is for the good and safety of everybody especially the devotees.
In front of the Quiapo Church, policemen also formed several layers of human barricades to prevent the devotees from rushing towards and blocking the carriage once it arrived in the vicinity of the church.
Officials said devotees approaching the front of the procession is one of the reason for its slow movement.
As of 12 noon, over the Manila Police District estimated that 100,000 devotees were inside the Quiapo Church while around 30,000 were on its vicinity.
The MPD said the security situation in the area is still peaceful. More than 13,000 policemen have been deployed to secure this year's Traslacion. (SunStar Philippines)