Palace: No terror plot on Black Nazarene feast-A A +A
Monday, January 7, 2013
THE Aquino administration has not yet received reports of a terrorist attack that might mar Wednesday’s Feast of the Black Nazarene.
On the eve of the traditional feast last year, President Benigno Aquino III said the government received reports of possible bomb attack meant to disrupt the procession attended by millions of devotees.
The terror threat prompted Malacañang to ask telecommunication companies to temporarily jam cell phone signals along the route of the procession. Cellphones are normally used to remotely detonate bombs.
“Perhaps the greater question is whether the cellphone signals will be uninterrupted for this year. So far, while I know that the PNP is studying that, there is still no final word yet,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
Valte assured that National Capital Region Police Office Chief Leonardo Espina has been coordinating with the local government of Manila and the Church officials in Quiapo to ensure an orderly and peaceful procession.
The Palace official reminded devotees who intend to take part in the mass and in the procession to heed the usual appeals of the police not to bring along children and valuables during the procession.
She added that the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is prepared in traffic management. The agency said it will deploy 1,100 to ensure public safety, and emergency response operations of the City Government and other agencies.
“The PNP will be on hand to make sure that all the devotees will be safe and that the measures undertaken for this year’s celebration will be equally strict,” she said.
Meantime, Valte refused to discourage devotees from wearing shirts that bear names of politicians, saying it is their choice on what to wear during the procession.
“I remember there is a Supreme Court case na pagdating po sa bahay ng isang tao kung ano po ‘yung poster ng politician na gusto niyang ilagay, karapatan po niya ‘yon. I would interpret that to mean also that it would extend to apparel. Desisyon po ng mga deboto ‘yon kung ano po ‘yung kanilang gustong isuot,” she said.
In a related development, the Department of Health appealed anew to those with illnesses, with disabilities, and senior citizens to as much as possible not to join the procession.
This is to avoid the possibility of getting hurt considering the very physical nature of the annual procession, according to DOH spokesperson Eric Tayag.
“If their presence there is not really necessary, we would advise them not to join the procession anymore,” said Tayag in an interview.
Similarly, he called on parents not to bring their young children anymore since they are also vulnerable to getting hurt.
If not, the health official said it is best if the devotees will just orient themselves with the location of the first aid stations strategically placed all over the procession route in Manila.
“Get to know where the nearest first aid stations are. They are prepared to help those who will faint, hurt and eventually bring them to the nearest hospitals if necessary,” said Tayag.
As for hospitals, the DOH official said they have already ordered government hospitals within the Quiapo district, as well as nearby medical facilities to go on Code White Alert.
“This will ensure that they will be prepared to help devotees who may need medical attention,” said Tayag.
Under White Alert, all hospital staff and personnel will be on duty in government hospitals covered by the directive to provide medical assistance.
lmost 1,000 devotees got injured in last year's procession that took 22 hours. (Jill Beltran/HDT/Sunnex)