By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said it has yet to detect security threats for the feast of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9, 2024, but it would implement stringent monitoring measures to avert any attacks.

“Kagaya ng dati at lagi nating kinagawian, hindi tayo nagkukumpiyansa. Patuloy tayong nagva-validate ng mga information na nare-receive. Inin-intensify yung intelligence monitoring natin katuwang yung mga ibang security forces para kung meron man tayong nakikita na mga vulnerabilities as early as now ay nakakapaglatag tayo ng karampatang security measures to prevent any untoward incident (Just like what we are always doing, we are not letting our guard down. We continue to validate information that we receive and we are intensifying our intelligence monitoring in coordination with other security forces so that we can implement necessary security measures to deal with vulnerabilities and prevent any untoward incident),” PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said in an interview with reporters.

This is to prevent a repeat of the Dec. 3 bombing at a Mass inside the Mindanao State University gymnasium in Marawi City that killed four and injured dozens, she said.

Fajardo said the Manila Police District (MPD) continues to hold simulation exercises, communication exercises and walkthrough activities starting at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park up to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church in Quezon Boulevard.

“Our MPD DD (district director Col. Arnold Thomas Ibay) is going around and holding meetings as well as inspections along the procession route,” she added. “We are keeping a tight watch on the activities and we will deploy K9 dogs, especially in the vicinity of the Quiapo Church and the procession routes.”

The Traslacion or traditional procession will start from Quirino Grandstand, turn left to Katigbak Street; pass through Padre Burgos Street; and along Finance Road, and Palanca, Arlegui, Fraternal, Vergara, Duque de Alba, Castillejos, Farnecio, Nepomuceno, Concepcion Aguila, Carcer, Hidalgo, Bilibid Viejo, Gil Puyat, and J.P De Guzman Streets; under the Quezon Bridge; and Villalobos Street en route to Plaza Miranda right outside the church.

It would mark the first time the Traslacion will return to its old format after the celebration was suspended from 2021 to 2023 because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

This year, Quiapo Church officials held a “Walk of Faith” and lured 1.2 million devotees over two days.

The last procession in 2020 had about 3 million participants joining the shorter Traslacion route that lasted 16 hours.

In 2018 and 2019, the PNP estimated an average crowd of 4 million, both lasting for nearly 24 hours. (PNA)