700 cops, soldiers secure fest; up to 3 million crowd expected

ALMOST 700 security forces from different units in Negros Island Region have been deployed to secure the 37th MassKara Festival in Bacolod City which reaches its highlights this weekend.

Chief Inspector Dianne Grace Catedral, public information officer of Police Regional Office (PRO)-18, said the 686 personnel include 200 reservists, 88 from Regional Mobile Group, 96 from Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, and 186 from Regional Training School.
Sixty-three more policemen came from other units as well.

Also deployed were 16 Philippine Army troopers, six Coastguard personnel, nine personnel from K9 Unit Team, 12 from the Bureau of Jail Management Penology, and 10 from the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Senior Inspector Armilyn Vargas, public information officer of Bacolod City Police Office, said everything is ready for the festival’s highlights.

For his part, Senior Inspector Gideon Montaño, head of Police Station 1, which covers the Bacolod public plaza, said more than 150 force multipliers were also deployed at the plaza for crowd control and road safety during the street dance competitions Saturday and Sunday.

More than 100 policemen were assigned to augment the police station for additional security forces at the plaza, which is one of the major festival sites.

Chief Inspector Benedicto Villarias, head of Police Station 2, which covers the Tourism Strip on Lacson Street, reminded the public not to bring deadly weapons, firearms, and backpacks.

A total of 300 traffic enforcers were also deployed to control the traffic flow especially during the two-day street dance competition.

The entire Tourism Strip from Lacson Street to corner Cottage Road is partially closed starting noon, and will be shut down by 4 p.m. until Sunday.

All public utility jeepneys coming from the north portion of Bacolod City – or jeepneys plying Banago, Bata, and Mandalagan – while heading to public plaza using Lacson Street, should turn right at North Drive Street, straight ahead to Gatuslao Street, turn left going to Rizal Street, turn right going to Palanca Street straight ahead to Luzuriaga, and turn right to San Juan.

All side street access roads will be closed and manned by policemen and traffic enforcers.

Crowd

About three million local and foreign tourists are expected to flock to Bacolod during this weekend’s highlights, Chief Tourism Operations Officer Ma. Elma Gerasmo.

Starting today, Gerasmo said two million “warm bodies” or individuals are expected to gather in different festival sites, mainly at the public plaza for the street and arena dance competition schools category.

On Sunday, which will feature the barangay category, the crowd is expected at three million, she added.

Other areas noted to have influx of visitors include the Bacolod Government Center, carnivals at the Reclamation area, and Tourism Strip, which hosts various activities like Electric MassKara street parties, float parade, and live bands, among others.

Gerasmo said the festival benefits businesses – from the huge accommodation facilities like hotels and restaurants down to the small entrepreneurs such as peanut and “balut” vendors .

Tourist destinations, including those outside Bacolod, also have increasing sales, Gerasmo said.

The transportation sector is also given the opportunity to earn during the festival, she added.
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