'Thousands' of volunteers to help secure Calungsod Thanksgiving Mass in Cebu

Security preparations for this Friday's Thanksgiving Mass for San Pedro Calungsod in Cebu will involve thousands of volunteers assisting the police force, according to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas. In a statement released Wednesday, Roxas said the volunteers consist of barangay tanods, church members, and personnel from local government units (LGU), the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy. “Do not leave anything to chance. Kaligtasan ng kabuuan ang importante. Mabuti na ang maingat kaysa magpabaya tayo at may nangyaring hindi maganda," Roxas said. An estimated one million devotees are expected to attend the Thanksgiving Mass, including President Benigno Aquino III and several Catholic Church officials. On Wednesday, a security briefing was conducted at South Road Properties, the venue for the Mass, and was attended by Roxas and top regional officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Police Commission, the Bureau of Fire Protection and local government officials. Noting that security will be their main priority, Roxas said at least 1,500 police personnel will be deployed in the area and even among the crowd to avoid untoward incidents such as stampedes. Some 50 policemen will also be assigned on every block around the venue. “Whenever you have so many people in a confined space, crowd control is always an utmost concern. We want to avoid accidents especially in the event of stampede,” Roxas said. The PNP will also deploy other support staff for transport security, intelligence and communications in the area. Roxas also said firemen, rescue, and emergency personnel, as well as fire trucks, ambulances, and emergency vehicles will be placed in strategic locations for more efficient responses. Personnel from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the Highway Patrol Group, and PNP Regional and City Police Offices will also be utilized. "The safety and convenience of the visitors and Mass attendees are paramount, so we must make sure that all our available resources and personnel are strategically deployed starting today,” Roxas said. Roxas also urged those attending the Thanksgiving Mass to remain alert and vigilant for their own safety. Aside from Aquino, also expected to attend the Mass are several church officials led by Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and church dignitaries from other countries. — Gian C. Geronimo/KBK, GMA News

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