The Manila Police District (MPD) will deploy policemen to all Catholic churches in the city to secure the safety of people who will be attending dawn Masses.

Mayor Joseph Estrada ordered the MPD to guard all 113 Catholic churches. Dawn Masses, also called Simbang Gabi, will start on December 16.

MPD chief Senior Supt. Joel Coronel said he will deploy 10 police officers in each church starting Friday, the start of the nine-day novena.

“We won’t let anyone disrupt Misa de Gallo. We won’t allow anyone or anything to destroy the spirit of Christmas. We will ensure the safety and security of every Manileño attending the masses,” the mayor said.

Estrada also called on city residents to be vigilant and report to authorities any suspicious individual or situation they might encounter.

He cited the improvised bomb found along Roxas Boulevard near the US Embassy on November 28, which terrorists could have set off if not for the vigilance and quick thinking of a street sweeper who immediately reported it to the police.

“We should remain calm but be vigilant. We need everyone’s cooperation at times like this,” Estrada said.

The mayor assured the 4,652-strong city police force that the city government is ready to back them up and provide their logistical needs to protect the city from criminal and terrorist elements, especially during the Christmas season.

Manila has 113 churches; 63 are considered as major shrines, basilicas, and cathedrals such as Binondo Church, Quiapo Church, San Agustin Church, and San Sebastian Church, among others.

“So for the Simbang Gabi alone, we will dedicate a total of 1,113 policemen to protect the thousands who will be attending the masses,” Coronel said.

He said the police remains on full alert because of the level 3 terrorist alert declared by Philippine National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa on December 1.