THE government has not monitored any security threat that would prompt officials to jam phone signals along the route of the Black Nazarene procession just like they did in 2012.
Despite the absence of a threat, security forces have measures in place to protect the millions of devotees joining Thursday’s Traslacion.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said security measures are in place and the authorities are “on top of the situation.”
“Since it involves a huge mass of people, we have to be there. The Philippine National Police and Metro Manila Development Authority are all there to maintain peace and order,” he added.
In 2012, authorities had to put signal jammers along the route of the procession to disable cell phones that may be used to trigger bombs or explosives.
Lacierda said there is no need to jam phone signals this year.
“Walang ganoong plano [There is no such plan] this year because that was in response to those concerns two years ago,” he said.
Lacierda reminded devotees taking part in the mass and procession to observe discipline and be wary of the people around them.
“It’s a very difficult procession. It used to be six hours since I was still there. But now it’s 18 hours so we’d just like to ask the devotees to please take care of the person beside you, baka mahimatay [they might faint],” he said.
The Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) sees no disruption to the observance of the Manila’s major religious event.
“No [threat]. As of last briefing yesterday until now we have not monitored any threat that will disrupt the activities,” Col. Manuel Santiago, commander of the AFP Joint Task Force NCR said on Wednesday.
But Santiago said that with or without threat, all necessary countermeasures are in place to ensure the safety of the public.
According to Santiago, they have standby security forces ready to be deployed upon the request of the PNP, which is in charge of overall security preparations.
Some 6,000 policemen from various districts in Metro Manila will beef up the Manila police.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will also deploy 2,000 traffic enforcers to areas around Quiapo church and along the route of the procession.
“Our traffic enforcers will supervise vehicular and pedestrian traffic to avoid accidents or any untoward incident particularly along the route of the procession,” MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said.
With reports from Ritchie Horario and William Depasupil