A TOTAL of 4,365 security personnel under the Task Force MassKara were sent off on Monday to their various posts for this week’s highlights of the 38th MassKara Festival in Bacolod City.
This year, the MassKara Festival is celebrated from October 1 to 22.
President Rodrigo Duterte will be the guest of honor during the final day on Sunday at the Bacolod public plaza, where the much-anticipated village street and arena dance competition will be held.
Of the total number, 1,361 policemen came from Bacolod City Police Office, Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, and Regional Public Safety Battalion-Western Visayas along with 120 troopers of the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Battalion.
Others were 600 army reservists, 370 personnel of Bacolod Traffic Authority Office, 704 volunteers from anti-crime groups, and 1,210 members of Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams.
An Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame also arrived.
The Task Force MassKara, spearheaded by the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Western Visayas, also tapped the Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Emergency Response Team of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
The send-off rites, held at the Bacolod City Government Center grounds, was led by Chief Superintendent Cesar Binag, director of PRO- Western Visayas; and Senior Superintendent Jesus Cambay Jr., deputy regional director for operations of PRO-Western Visayas, who also heads Task Force MassKara, with Superintendent Rhoderick Minong, officer-in-charge of Bacolod City Police Office; and Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil Jr., director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office.
They were joined by city officials headed by Mayor Evelio Leonardia, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, Bacolod Lone District Representative Greg Gasataya, barangay officials, former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman Martin Diño, and Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo Jr.
Superintendent Ronie Arong, regional chaplain of PRO-Western Visayas, prayed for the troops.
In his speech, Binag assured the people of Bacolod that the members of the Task Force MassKara will ensure their safety in all festival sites.
Binag said 100 policemen from the deactivated PRO-Negros Island Region were permanently added to the existing more than 600 city police personnel.
“We are prepared as we have laid a major security event framework for the festival,” Binag said.
He urged all security forces to have strong presence and intensified visibility patrol in all areas of Bacolod City.
“Let’s be serious in this task to better serve the people of Bacolod,” Binag said.
He said during a press conference Monday that they have requested the National Telecommunications Commission to shut down cellular network services during the highlights from October 19 to 22.
Police requested for the signal jamming at the public plaza on October 20 to 22 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Bacolod City Government Center, on October 19 and 22 from 8 p.m. to 12 midnight; and Lacson Tourism Strip, on October 20 to 22 from 8 p.m. to 12 midnight.
Binag reiterated the implementation of gun ban starting 12 midnight of October 17 until 11:59 p.m. of October 23.
Leonardia thanked Binag for his concern to the city and for providing a huge number of security personnel for the festival which he considers a “very special occasion for Bacolodnons.”