Millions flock to cemeteries to mark All Saints’ Day-A A +A
Friday, November 1, 2013
MANILA (5th Update) -- Millions of Filipinos flocked to different cemeteries in Metro Manila and other areas in the country to commemorate their departed loved ones on Friday, November 1.
The country's observance of All Saints’ Day has remained peaceful even as the Philippine National Police (PNP) continues to monitor the situation in Metro Manila and other provinces, a Malacanang official said Friday.
"So far, smooth and peaceful naman ang commemoration natin ng All Saints' Day at ng All Souls' Day. Patuloy ang pagmo-monitor ng ating mga ahensiya at pagre-report po nila kay Pangulong (President Benigno) Aquino sa mga paggalaw dito sa ating bansa," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters.
No major crime incident was reported on Friday, except for one carnapping incident in Capaz, Tarlac involving a parked Mitsubishi Adventure sport utility vehicle near the vicinity of Capaz Catholic Cemetery. The vehicle was reportedly stolen between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. of Friday.
Close to 1.5 million people flocked the Manila North Cemetery on Friday, while hundreds of thousands trooped to the Manila South Cemetery in Makati City.
In Cebu City, hundreds have also trooped to Carreta Cemetery, where tight security has been enforced.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) launched "Oplan Kaluluwa" in time for the "Undas" weekend, deploying additional personnel within the area of the various memorial parks and cemeteries to maintain peace and order.
Johnny Yu, chief of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said at least 1.5 million people have arrived at the Manila North Cemetery, the country's largest public cemetery in terms of population.
The cemetery's administrator Rafael Marquez said that though volume is slightly lower compared to last year but he still considers this year's figures as "beyond the usual."
"Madami pa din though medyo mababa compare last year, bahagya lang naman since nga na barangay elections last Monday, so mukang mas napaaga yung dalaw ng iba natin mga kababayan dahil kelangan din nila umuwi sa kanila mga probinsya upang bumoto,” Mendez said.
He said the recently concluded barangay elections have helped reduced the number of visitors at the cemetery on Friday as some had travelled to the provinces to cast their votes last October 28 and to spend the long weekend.
Around three million to four million deceased are buried in the 54-hectare cemetery, including popular politicians and show biz personalities.
Among them are former Presidents Sergio Osmena, Jose P. Laurel, Manuel Roxas Sr., Elpidio Quirino, Ramon Magsaysay; former Manila Mayors Arsenio Lacson and Antonio Villegas; and actor Fernando Poe Jr.
Mendez said they gather about five to 10 truckload of garbage daily since its gates were opened last week. Mendez was thankful that the local garbage collector continued its operations despite the holiday break.
They were already thinking of looking for alternative garbage disposal areas, he said.
Most of the garbage left behind by the cemetery's visitors is mostly made of plastic and polystyrene.
Superintendent Ricardo Layug, Manila Police District (MPD) station 3 chief and the designated ground commander in the area, said the situation in the cemetery is generally peacefully despite receiving some reports of theft. They also receive report that a security guard assigned at the cemetery was reportedly firing his service pistol indiscriminately.
"May nadukutan lang kanina saka nanakawan sa loob ng ambulansya. Kagabi yung sekyu sa Manila North Park na katabi lang nito ay nahuli after indiscriminately firing his service firearm. Naingayan daw kasi sa labas at hinde makatulog, eh alam naman niyang dadagsa talaga ang tao dito," Layug said.
The police outpost placed along the north and south wing of the North Cemetery and another one, which is placed along the nearby La Loma Catholic Cemetery, were able to net 77 bladed weapons and 134 flammable items as well as other prohibited stuffs like gardening tools and big buckle belts.
Layug said that they will remain on full-alert until November 3.
(Photos from Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City)
(Photos from Cebu South Bus Terminal and Carreta Cemetery in Cebu City)
At the Heritage Park in Taguig City, the visitors observed All Saints' Day peacefully and orderly. The security personnel and the police officers recorded no untoward incidents in the area.
The police have confiscated, however, several bladed weapons and alcoholic beverages in cemeteries in Cebu, said Senior Inspector Pablito Sarno.
About 3,000 policemen were deployed in Cebu Province and to the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu during the holidays, said the police earlier.
No untoward incident has been reported at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City as of Friday morning and the traffic inside the cemetery was manageable.
Police outposts and emergency personnel are visible all over the place.
"Sa dami ng naka-deploy na law enforcement units plus mga barangay tanods plus yung mga volunteer groups. So namiminimize actually ang mga ganun [crime] though minsan may nahuhuli tayo but again nire-report naman kaagad," Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, spokesman to the PNP chief, said.
Mayor even described this year's celebration of the All-Saints' Day as "more solemn" compare to the past years.
(Photos from the Manila South Cemetery in Makati City)
Meanwhile, the police unit handling the security, and peace and order in the Araneta Center Terminal said that passengers decreased on Friday as compared to 6,000 estimated passengers on Thursday evening.
"Kakaunti na ang pasahero. Siguro ngayon nasa isang daan na lang ang nandito. Kagabi 'yung pinakamarami dahil humabol sila para sa okasyon ngayon," PO1 Oliver Bocade of the Quezon City Police District Station 7 in Cubao said in a phone interview.
Bocade said, even though passengers decreased, they will still be securing the area and prepare for the return of the passengers on Saturday evening until Monday morning.
He added that everything went smoothly since the passengers increased its number to 6,000 Thursday at around 4 p.m. until midnight. There were no records of stranded passengers.
Passengers went to different provinces in the Philippines to visit their families and departed loved ones. Some took advantage of the long break from work or school and had their vacation.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier expressed satisfaction with the preparation of agencies for the annual event, where millions of Filipinos troop to cemeteries to pay respect to their departed loved ones. He inspected terminals and other transport hubs on Thursday.
Aside from cemeteries, policemen were also sent to bus terminals and ports to ensure the safety of the riding public. Valte said the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) deployed additional units to help ease the flow of traffic.
The Palace declared Friday as a special non-working holiday. (Virgil Lopez/Third Anne Peralta/Glaiza Jarloc/Kathrina Alvarez/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Ariel Catubig/Sunnex)