DEVOTEES of the Señor Sto. Niño or the Child Jesus who will be attending the first three days of the novena mass at the Basilica del Sto. Niño in downtown Cebu City, have been advised to bring umbrellas and raincoats.
Scattered rains are expected starting Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, the first day of the novena mass, until Sunday, Jan. 10, due to a low pressure area (LPA).
Jhomer Eclarino, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa)-Mactan weather specialist, said Metro Cebu and Central Visayas, in general, can expect mostly cloudy to cloudy weather with a 90 percent chance of rain over the weekend.
He said they are monitoring the LPA, which was spotted 265 kilometers east southeast of Davao City around 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7.
He advised the public to be on alert for possible flooding and landslides in prone areas. However, there is less chance of the LPA developing into a tropical depression, Eclarino said.
Meanwhile, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) officials said they won’t implement a city-wide cellular signal shutdown during the Fiesta Señor on Jan. 17.
Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, CCPO’s deputy director for operations, said they will focus their preparations on ensuring that minimum health standards are observed by churchgoers who will be attending the novena masses at the Basilica del Sto. Niño.
Starting Thursday, Jan. 7, roads surrounding the basilica were closed to control the number of people entering. These will remain closed until the end of the novena masses.
Force multipliers will help around 500 police personnel who have been deployed at the basilica and its vicinity to secure the crowd.
Before that, CCPO personnel led by its director Col. Josefino Ligan attended a send-off mass organized by Augustinian fathers.
Ligan said the basilica will have only one designated entrance at the Magellan’s Cross across City Hall and one exit at Osmeña Blvd.
Devotees are prohibited from bringing backpacks and large bags if they want to enter the basilica.
Minors under the age of 15 and senior citizens over the age of 65 will also be denied entry to the basilica, in compliance with the executive order of Mayor Edgardo Labella.
Police personnel will be placed in quarantine control points across the city to check devotees for quarantine passes.
The celebration for this year’s Fiesta Señor is muted by the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted city and church officials to cancel major Sinulog activities like the Penitential Walk with Jesus, the Penitential Walk with Mary, Traslacion, seaborne procession and the reenactment of the first baptism and the solemn foot procession, among others. (WBS, AYB / JKV)